|“||“No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness”|
|He's a wanderer, yeah a wanderer, he gets around, around, around.|
|Age||50 years old|
Stian Bjarke is a mild-mannered thinker. He rarely rushs into any situation without first trying to gauge as many possible actions as time allows. After spending most of his youth as a nomad in the far reaches of the lands, he found the isolation grinding slowly at his soul. Word reached him of the founding of the Empire, and over the past decade he has moved through these lands learning much about its people and customs. Recently he has wandered his way into the inner-kingdoms, slowly starting to mingle with the people of the empire. Trying to make daily impressions upon its people. Small acts of kindness, a joke, a helping hand, whatever he can do to make a good first impression.
- 1 Appearance
- 2 Personality Traits
- 3 History
- 4 Journal Entries
- 4.1 Nice Guys Finish Last (Season 2 Preseason update)
- 4.2 Woe in the Weald (Season 2 Week 1)
- 4.3 The Waiting Game
- 4.4 Hanging in the Balance of Nature (Season 2 Week 2)
- 4.5 The Dog-wood Cocoon
- 4.6 Metamorphose her? I just met her. (Season 2 Week 3)
- 4.7 A rekindled effort
- 4.8 The Heart of Saccarash is the beat. (Season 2 Week 4)
- 4.9 Quest of Change
- 4.10 Time to Sow the seeds of Change (Season 2 Week 5)
- 4.11 The Post Game Wrap-up
- 4.12 Tides of Change (Season 2 Week 6 - Downtime)
- 4.13 Ive got a bad feeling about this Ruins of the Weald (Season 2 Week 7)
- 4.14 Ent-ropy (Season 2 Week 8)
- 4.15 A Brave New World (Season 2 Week 9 Downtime)
- 4.16 Last Grain of Sand (Season 2 Week 10)
- 4.17 From Whence They Came (Season 2 Week 11)
- 4.18 The Dragon Chained (Season 2 Week 12)
- 4.19 The King , The Queen, and the Pawn (Season 2 Downtime)
- 5 Trivia
Stian is an older human, he is not the pinnacle of strength nor is he dashing. His very slender, average height body is a vessel for a strong mind.
Armor and Weapons
Stian often wears his Light armor and traveling cloak, and he never lets his trusty Quarterstaff leave his sights. He can often be seen using it for walks through the forest.
Can be too calculating at times, sometimes he forgets to act.
Usually has a smile for those who need one.
Before the Empire
Stian Bjarke grew up in a small nomadic tribe far to the northeast of the empire along the edge of the world. His tribe, the Ylfings, was a hearty group of barbarians, but he even at a very young age very rarely measured up to all the expectations put on by his father and the tribe. The tribe held a ceremony when the males hit the age of 10, to celebrate them joining the hunting team, Stian was the only tribe member in remembrance to fail his first hunt out of lack of physical strength. While he knew he could out think his prey, thinking was not popular with the tribe, and they believed brute force was the way of dominance. Upon return for the hunt, there was much talk of possible exile, or just killing the young man. How could he be so weak? As time passed rumors still churned.
About a year later while he was still struggling to prove himself as a valuable part of the tribe, he went out to try to prove he could catch a wild boar on his own, using his ways. He found himself wandering far beyond the usual hunting grounds and found a secluded area where he believe he could set a trap perfectly to capture plenty to prove his worth. He spent many hours deliberately and carefully setting up his best idea. Unfortunately while his attention was focused and determined to prove his worth, another group of hunters were closing in on him. These large men easily outnumbered and out powered him. Demanding to know what young Stian was doing in their lands, he pleaded that he did not know and was merely trying to impress his tribe. The large group of fierce warriors and hunters, said that if young Stian lead them to his tribe so they could talk to his elders, as to avoid any further issues, they would let him live.
As young Stian dejectedly lead the rival tribe to his small encampment, he thought only about how he let down his tribe again by being a bad hunter, he never even thought that he could be leading Death to their doorstep. As the large group reached the edge of the encampment, Stian told the group he would go fetch his father. They held him back and shouted, "Leader of the Ylfings Clan, Come forward if you wish to save your kin." The leaders of the encampment came forward, both worried for young Stian and their own personal fate. The warrior group Stian had engaged, outnumbered the tribe by almost 5 to 1. The tribe leader, Jerrik Hakon, stepped forward carefully. "What is it that you ask of us to return the boy safely? He is not our strongest warrior, but he is still one of us.", said Jerrik. As the last of his words slipped from his tongue the large leader of the Rival tribe in one swift movement unsheathed his short sword and slashed through Jerrik's throat. At the sight of his tribe leader's death, Young Stian began to cry uncontrollably. He began pleading, "Please this was my mistake, dont punish them, Ill do anything to make this stop." The Rival leader turned, spit on the boy and said, "You are no true warrior, you have no say" As the Rival group all drew their weapons, the small tribe knew their fate. Young Stian fell to his knees and pleaded again, this time silently to himself, "Please.... I would do anything to make this stop....". Over and over again he pleaded as slashing and screams of pain echo'd in his ears. "Please.... Make it stop... Ill do anything...."
Then something answered his prayer... a mysterious voice echoed in his mind.... "ANYTHING....?" Stian was stunned, but it gave him a small amount of hope, even though the voice scared him to death. "Yes Ill do anything to make it stop", he thought, "Anything! Please hurry!". The voice replied, "Your soul is now bound to me. Do you understand?" Stian answered, "Yes, please make it stop..." Stian felt a pain unlike anything burn in his chest. He quickly stood up and he began to yell, loudly. Everyone turned to see a small boy's chest start to burn brighter than the sun itself, and then a darkness unseeable by human eyes. The darkness burst outward, incinerating EVERYONE within area reducing them to less than ash. Tribe folk and Rivals alike. With a final burst of energy, Stian fell to his knees yet again, afraid to open his eyes. The voice whispered one more time, "It's done. Now live your life, I hope it was worth it." Stian slowly opened his eyes, to see a barren wasteland, no people, no encampment, no trees, no grass. It was as if life itself was sucked from existence. The 11 year old boy, was left with no family, no tribe, no nothing. He grabbed the staff of the former leader, which still laid in front of him, and the short sword of the Rival leader which now glowed with a green tinge. And he set off quietly, scared to even say a word.
He spent almost the next three decade of his life, wandering the lands far to the north, afraid to even meet another human being, as he could be the end of them as well. He learned to live off the land, and asked for nothing from the mysterious voice. He walked, ate, and slept in silence. Silence is not how humans are meant to live their lives. It wears on people to not interact with others. It challenges them mentally and drains them physically. Over the nearly thirty years, Stian considered many times, ending it. But he was scared what would await him once he left this world. After many, many sleepless nights, and quiet walks, he finally gave in. He decided to move south and find out if he could ever live within sight of another person again.
As he found his way to the edge of civilization, places where people actually gathered and made permanent structures, he found himself reliving the fear he felt as a small boy, in a helpless situation. What if the voice just killed anyone he walked near? What if everyone sees me as a killer? As much as he feared it, none of this came to be. He was stared at, but it was mostly due to his unkempt clothes and bad smell. After a few days of "Re-assimilation" he was able to clean up enough where the stares were very few. He was even able to have normal conversations with locals. It was as if he was a normal person, and not the runt of the tribe, or the murder of a whole area of the world. He spent a few more nights in the town, trying to find out about the local and adjacent areas, where he might also visit, and learn about their ways. These new customs and ways of life intrigued him. They were not based on pure strength, they were based on being the best person you could be, in all facets. Stian while engaged in life like he had never been before was still scared of his future, until one day he was on the outskirts of town reading a book he borrowed from a man in town, when he heard a young boys scream. He was worried at first it was a flashback to his youth and that he was going to kill the townsfolk somehow. But he quickly realized it came from not far off near the town's well. He rushed over quickly to see a small boy who had fallen in a good 20 feet down, and was scared and grave danger. He saw that the rope had broken which the boy must of been using to hold himself up, and there was no way he was strong enough to climb down and save the kid.
It was his childhood all over again, he was not strong enough to help. He was going to watch this child die. Then a voice that had haunted him nearly thirty years ago, "As much as you dont want me, I am still with you. You can save the child, you just need to believe you can." With that he held his hand out and closed his eyes. The child below saw the rope in the water with him miraculous jump up and end up in Stian's hand. The boy grabbed on and Stian struggled to pull him out the water. But he was able to keep him afloat until other townsfolk showed up over the next few minutes. Stian was praised by the locals, branded as a hero. But it was the voice that was keeping his mind occupied. "I am scared of you. I am scared I will hurt people again." The voice replied, "You have grown stronger this day, the powers I granted you are now yours to control until it is my time to claim your soul. Do with them as you wish."
That evening the town held a small celebration in Stian's name. He never ate so much food, or had so many people happy to see and meet him. Everyone wanted to hear about his travels, and tell him about their lives. He was touched by the knowledge he could gain from helping and talking to other people. At the end of the night he met one traveler, similar to himself. They shared some stories of their times in the wilderness, but it was the tales that the man shared with Stian of a new civilization that peaked his interest the most. There was a coalition of men. An "empire" if you will, that was growing from the ground up. It was trying to be the pinnacle of life in this world. Stian knew he was far from this new "Empire" but maybe if he did his best to help who he could along the way, he could find redemption for his soul in this place.
Stian is in the capital, working hard as an individual to make it a better place.
Nice Guys Finish Last (Season 2 Preseason update)
Having now spent close to a year working to make a difference around the area of the Citadel, Stian has found himself rather frustrated. His constant attempt to make a name for himself through positive influence, has been met with little to no enthusiasm. Recently he's been taking jobs that seems more and more challenging and often required going far away. His goal to stay local and gain prestige just wasnt working. After spending some time looking for something that could give him renown, he finally came upon a rumor that Surgot Relagallos was looking for adventurers to go to the halflings who are suppose to be protecting the lands of Menschelm, specifically the Creeping Weald. While this doesnt sound up his alley, getting in league with someone like Surgot could maybe get Stian's foot in the door to a higher purpose. Now he finds himself partied with a group of outcasts, a Bovak barbarian(Grenk Hartine/T73) and a halfling ranger(Phineas Deen/Ezzot). His bitterness is worn on his sleeve, but he is still hopeful that something may come of this in the long run.
Woe in the Weald (Season 2 Week 1)
We had a brief audience with Surgot today, and while he didnt laud us as heroes, it was nice to be appreciated for even accepting the quest. He told us the halfling homeland of Menschelm had ceased responding to official couriers and missives; in fact, no communication of any kind has emerged from the massive, brooding silence of the Creeping Weald for a fortnight. After getting our things together, we set off for Menschlem. We knew going in that it was going to take us a few days to make it there. I tried to engage the group, but my depression got the better of me and I could find little words that did not have barbs on them as I spit them out. Grenk took the brunt of my harsh words. It was a long ride, longer than it should have been because of my sarcasm and casual racism. These things should be below me, but yet I cant seem to bring myself up to my normal levels of amenity. As we finally crest the final hill after the many days of travel, we saw the horrendous looking forest, complete with its own monsters thunderstorm that seems to sit over it. As we approached, it was very clear to me that this forest has a very strong connection to something, whether it be the Aether or something that gave it the thirst for expansion. It is unnatural to say the least. The branches seem to reach out yearning for the ability to spread over the virgin lands surrounding the forest and the leaves seem to have serrated teeth that bite and drool at the chance to eat fresh air. As we approach the very edge, there appeared no easy way in.
We traveled along the edge of the forest for a ways before coming to a stone arch. It was clear to me that after a somewhat close inspection it appeared to be some sort of conduit both for tapping into the aether more than normal, as well as some sort of lightning conductor. I attempted to convey this to the party but Grenk took it as a sign to attack the stone arch, despite me attempting to backpedal as I saw his aggression, lightning struck. I briefly saw his axe fly out of the forest, before the noise and intensity of the lightning and thunder blinded and deafened me. I noticed relatively quickly, and while my mind was not harmed, the thought of permanent ailments haunted my mind. I talked briefly to the mysterious voice that haunts my head of both my lack of senses and the situation Im in. He assured me that my senses will return, I knelt and waited as he continues. "Your mind seems to betray you, recently you have lost a lot of the hope that you have held on to for the years we have been together. I had even seen that hope flourish over the past decade or so. While it is not in my best interest to necessarily see you be healthy, you are one of my favorite 'servants'. I will say to you, that your current situation has been predicted. Keep working on your short term goals, remember the gift I have given you and you will see this dark time through." In the recent years, the voice has become more and more... civil with me, its almost as if our time together has actually brought us closer, even if we never have met. This scares me at times, even more than the booming voice echoing in my head.
After my sense are regained, Phineas tells us how the Lightning was sent along the series of the stone arches like a lightning fence. It seems to burn off a chunk of the expanding forest, thus keeping it all contained. This is a fairly complex magic, and I find its use extremely well thought out. We retrieve Grenk's Axe, and we decide to continue along the forest, as the arches dont give any way deeper into the forest. While walk along I offered to fix Grenk's axe. He was skeptical. He snapped a spear over his knee and told me to fix it, and I did by channeling myself with the mysterious voice. Grenk for the first time was impressed by my magic. He hands over the busted axe. The feeling in my fingers that usually comes as I try to mend things, just never came. Grenk's sarcasm returns as I am disappointed.
We walked for a while longer, and eventually we came to a path opening into the forest. Finally. It's not your average path in a forest, this is more an obstacle course. As we wind our way through roots, up and down, where ever there was spare room to walk, we eventually can to a large puddle close to 10 foot around. Grenk and I started to walk through it when Phineas noticed it wasnt just a puddle, it was a giant footprint... Not long after that, realization set it to all of us, we heard a loud roar in the distance. We did notice the footprints seemed to intersect with the path rather than follow it, so we continued on, in search of the halflings. Possibly at a slightly accelerated pace.
As we continued on the twisting path, we continued to hear roars in the distance, although it was impossible to tell which direction they originate from in the echoing forest. Eventually we came to a large crater. It was a serene sight, in many ways, compared to what we had been dealing with up to that point. There was a mesh-interlocking root system on the top that seems to prevent anything from going down into this crater. In the bottom of the crater, there was a large lake, that has steam rising off it. In addition, there were series of land masses around the lake, as well as pillars of roots that hosted these grey spherical-like buildings. They seemed to have small doors and windows cut out of them. I couldnt help but think this is the halflings area and we'll be able to sort this mess out quickly and be on our way soon. I have this awful ability to underestimate my surrounding sometimes... There was about a 50 foot decline to climb down into the crater and the other members enthusiastically started to climb down. I was somewhat worried about my physical aptitude, but I was able to get down with no issues.
Once down below, I approached the steaming lake and tried to examine it. Possibly because of my premature excitement that I thought we were almost done, I didnt take the proper precautions and got a face full of steam. It knocked me back as I inhaled too much of the overwhelming steam boiling off the lake. As I steadied myself I realized I was only about 100 feet from the nearest 'house'. I approached it and peaked in to see what looked like a sparsely furnished house, made entirely from recycled forest materials. It had a very strong and bad fungal smell, while I can now tell this after 10 years of living in civilization, it still didnt bother me that much given my previous time spent in the wilderness. Once I went inside, I was surprised to find a small halfling on the ground. I rushed over and tried to check for a pulse. He seemed to be alive, but in a catatonic state that I could not revive him from. Unsure of what to do he called the party over to investigate further and stepped outside. The party hustled over at the mention of the halfling.
As we looked over the body, Phineas and I noticed out of the corner of our eyes a large pinkish monstrosity crawling out of the lake(Hereby noted as 'The Ice Cream Monster'). My initial reaction was to try to engage it mentally but hostility was upon us instantly. It grew more than a dozen pseudopodic limbs and started to lash out at Grenk and I. These limbs were covered in barbs and teeth. Grenk quickly hit the ground, out cold. I try to bury into the creature's mind, and sent mental barbs. It quickly resists my mental force and I hear the voices of many push back... Is this some sort of hive mind? I try to run after I feel frightened by its intensity, but couldnt escape its tentacles as it trips me up and grabs me. Phineas comes out the house quickly and helps raise up our lesser party member. He then called upon the powers of the forest to help us with this gruesome beast. The monster quickly lashes out again, hitting Phineas mostly but was also able to re-injure the lesser member again as Grenk goes down. The monster hit the tentacle that had grabbed me accidentally, letting me free. I tried to target the center of him to blow him to pieces with a Shattering wave of thunder. His vulnerable flesh melted quickly from the vibrations before reforming into strong muscles again. I managed to squirm away somewhat due to his focus on his reformation. I feel as though this is slightly above what I signed up for. Phineas continued to try to help the fallen Grenk, as he continued his assault as well. The monster dragged itself along as it attacks Phineas lashing a few my way as well. This monster had an inner strength or passion that scared me very much, nothing seemed to slow him down. I tried to respond quickly to it with a pair of bolts of force. My aim was off and I nearly hit Phineas with one of them. Phineas quickly healed up Grenk again , yelling at him to "Get up". Phineas dug into the monster again, and the monster responded right back, harshly. Grenk finally not laying on the ground, screamed and raged forward swinging wildly and the monster swatted him away. This time standing my ground with the whole party up, I shot another pair of force bolts directly into his gut tearing bits and pieces off the monster, leaving small pockets of vulnerability. Phineas seizing upon that window, unleashes his guardians one last time, as the force that held the monster together finally gave way as it dissolved into a puddle of pink goo and it seized its reformation attempts. Its tentacles writhe as the whole being decays into a mound of black gelatin. We had won for now. Not without taking a physical and mental beating though.
We have a catatonic halfling, a dead monster, an awkwardly silent town and a lot of questions. I quietly contemplate what else this hellhole has in store for us. I guess we'll find out soon enough...
The Waiting Game
After tending to our wounds, Phineas, Grenk and I decided we were in no shape to push on, especially if this was a sign of things to come. We also really had no idea where to go. I reached back out to Surgot, letting him know a quick status report and asking for reinforcements. He informed me he would send a force "to be reckoned with", although at the time I didnt pick this up as sarcasm. Grenk and I scouted the rest of the huts and the general crater-area. The houses were barren. There was no enemy. No food. No nothing. Just the same recycled furniture and empty houses. We went back to see if Phineas has made any progress on the halfling we had found. Nothing he or any of us seemed to do helped him. We knew it was going to take the better part of a week for the help to get here. We didnt travel far, as the echos of the forest were enough to make us want to leave entirely. I spent a lot of time reflecting, on this place, its magic. My magic. My mission. I am not a bad person, the voice has always told me I have the power to do things. As much as I tried to push the danger to the back of my mind of both my personal goals and our groups current location, every roar broke my mental focus. It would bring into focus the sight of Phineas and Grenk both terrified. This was not quite as long as some of my first weeks in exile, but it was not pleasant. I held onto the hope that there was hope. These reinforcements would be fearless warriors. They would know what to do, where to go, be able to fight everything we faced! Boy was I wrong...
Hanging in the Balance of Nature (Season 2 Week 2)
The morning of the predicted arrival, we left Phineas with the halfling again while Grenk and I wandered out towards the edge of the forest. We hadnt become friends, but I did sense a hidden trust. He may not be willing to tell me openly, but I think over time I had earned his respect. He might have been slightly thick-headed, but I think he genuinely meant well. All of this, the forest, the beats, the halflings, he knew is over his head. What he didnt know? It was also over mine, but he put trust in me anyway.
As we reached the edge of the forest, I saw two... yes, two... small beings heading our way. I dejectedly waved them towards us, Grenk was worried they werent for us. But who else would willingly come to this hell hole? Once they finally arrived, they introduced themselves as Celeborn(Vallax18) and Ramar Ulfist(legodoom968). It was very quickly apparent to me Celeborn was Grenk 2.0. Possibly even less trained though. Just a pure muscle head. Ramar was a more intellectual being but I could tell his connection or source of power was much weaker than mine. The mysterious voice in my head even laughed at his prowess as he saw him. We took the two back towards our makeshift camp in the crater, Grenk actually warns them of the perils of the stone arches. I guess he does learn eventually.
As we get back to the crater, we briefly introduced them to Phineas and showed them the halfling. We were giving them a very brief update into what was going on, when I noticed the halfling had a small glow coming from his shirt. I had quickly picked up his shirt at this sight of this and realized the light was coming from within him. It also seemed to be sentient, and wanted out. All I could think was awful thoughts like, "Was something using this halfling as a hatchery? Are we about to all die a horrible death? Why is the voice not talking to me right now?" As the small patch of light from under his skin pushed harder and harder to get out, everyone but me stepped away. With one final burst of power, this small amber orb filled with some sort of glowing liquid ripped a hole in the halflings abdomen and started bouncing peacefully in the air in front of me. What kinda of magic is this...? I tried to use my telepathic powers from the voice to communicate with it. The floating globe seemed to react to my telepathic waves as though it knew I was talking. Just not how to answer. After a few more moment of floating around the hut. It decided it was time to start its own journey and slowly started wandering out of the hut. At this point, everyone was ready to leave. This place is horrible. I tell Phineas to stay with the halfling and see if he can mend up that hole. It might not have been the smartest tactical decision taking the rejects with me. But I knew Phineas was the only one who had a shot at saving that halfling through healing. Maybe I could try to help figure out what caused the orb, if the orb was what made the rest of the halflings disappear, or at least what the hell is going on.
We followed the orb to the back of the crater, towards one of nastier thickets we couldnt explore earlier. As it floated towards the mess of roots and vines, the vines untangled and the roots pulled away from themselves, opening a clear path for all of us to walk through. It was majestic and awe-inspiring to behold. The power of this orb was beyond anything I had given it credit for at first glance. I now had a yearning desire to find out all about this globe's magic. Where did it come from? Could it draw from the voice too? Was I finally about to meet my master? I rushed to keep up, paying no attention to the rest of the group. They did keep a way back in retrospect, but they were no where near as anxious as I was. The globe seemed to be following a small stream through the twisted woods, making our pursuit easier. It was almost like it wanted us to follow it, even if we couldnt talk to it. After about half a mile walking along the stream, the small orb flew up a little into a giant knot of roots, or that's what we thought... Then the giant system of roots unbound itself and jumped to the ground. The party was terrified, but I said "Hello". In a young, naive voice is said back "Hi there!".
I quickly tried to engage the large root/tree monster, which was probably 25 feet in length. I managed to get him to tell us his name, which was something incoherent even to me, but he told us we could call him 'Kaokao'. Something about his innocence, immediately touched my heart. I instantly loved the naive giant tree dog. He proceeded to warn us against harming the forest, for if we did he would have to sit on us. He also told us through a series of questions from myself, that there is a Great Tree 'mother' in this forest, he has a 'father' who sounds like a protector of the forest, and lastly the halflings all 'changed'. I wondered if the 'change' was like metamorphosis. I tried to describe metamorphosis to him and while he didnt understand fully, he seemed to think it was something like that. The floating glowing orb had something to do with the 'change' and he was going to bring it back to 'mother'. Kaokao told us to follow him if we wanted. While my guess is the party would have rather turned around, I considered the pursuit of knowledge about everything here, unquenchable. I had to follow. The party followed, even Grenk, who expressed his concerns, but ultimately said "I trust you, Stian". Maybe he isnt too bad after all. I almost feel bad for him...
After walking for a decent time, we approached a grove where the treetops were so dense no light or dampness came down. There was a series of waterfalls flowing to the base of a beautiful magnificent tree. There were dozens of glowing amber orbs dancing in her branches. It was an amazing scene. Kaokao warned us not to upset 'mother', so we approached cautiously. At first it looked as if there was a man cradled in the roots of the tree, but as we approached, it was quickly apparent this 'man' was no ordinary man. He seemed to be made of hardwood, and was nearly 30 feet tall. He seemed to be playing some sort of game, or at least playing with, some sort of light string of the orbs. Obviously whoever this was, was very powerful. I approached slowly to not startle him. He took no notice. I knelt before him, and to my surprise Grenk walked up next to me and followed suit. The woodman took no notice. Not sure what else to do, I simply said, "Excuse me, sir?".
He was displeased that humans have come before the mother tree. He talked of how the Great Mother Tree Saccarash and him, Prios, have woven their story through the forest, and we are blindly wandering, wasting time. He told me he could sense the voice in my head, called it 'corruption', was offended I brought it before him. He specifically said he remembered this specific sense of power from the old war. So this voice really is evil... I always suspected it. It's words to me left little doubt, but now someone actually knows who this voice is. I dont think he wants to help me though. He wont give me the redemption I seek. He wont free me from this curse. Grenk spoke up, to voice his concerns for the halflings. His determination and willingness to pursue his goals was admirable. He would have been a strong barbarian in my old tribe... Not that I would have. Prios said that he could show us where the halflings went, but we might not like it. Without a word to anyone else, Grenk stood up and accepted the terms. Prios called forth the countless orbs and motes that were floating around Sakarosh. The lights in the motes flickered and dimmed, and rushed from the tree like falling stars. I saw them shoot through us, as Grenk and Ramar instantly fell. Celeborn dropped to a knee. While it pained me greatly, I did not succumb to the pain. There are far worse things in the this world. I have seen them with my own eyes. It felt like these orbs pulled my very being from its atheric structure, but I stood firm. I glimpsed over momentarily to see Grenk and Ramar in something like a chrysalis. Prios said "Do not resist, I just mean to show you another way." Another set of globes went flying through us. The last thing I saw, is Kaokao smiling at Prios, while he wagged his tail. I really like Kaokao... I hope I get to see him again some day. Then a shadow of amber took over my vision...
The Dog-wood Cocoon
The initial silence of the darkness was strangely comforting. It reminded me of many nights spent hidden in isolation, only me and the voice, in the dark edges of the world. While encased, even though I was rigidly bound by the crystal amber, I felt as though two forces were pulling at my very soul in opposite directions. The voice talked to me here and there while I was trapped. At times, I have a hard time hearing him. Normally even his whispers echo loudly through my skull. I had to strain myself to communicate with him. I told him of the woodman, Prios, and his son/dog Kaokao. He warned me to be careful. Prios was a man of good intent, but will break a few branches to make his point. It was an oddly, blunt comment from the normally riddle-addled conversations with the voice. I could feel his dislike for Prios. I told him of the cocoon. He laughed and told me to have fun, but warned me not to lose sight of the greater plan. The pursuit of knowledge is fine, and the noble causes of you and your friends are acceptable. I just need that one little favor, so make this field trip down memory lane, a quick one. You have work to do. I reflected on our plan, my mission. As much as I wish to not go through with it, it may be for the best anyway. As my consciousnesses started to fade, I felt a sense of peace I have not felt in decades. It's almost as if the bonds that held me to the voice, were being lifted. I could breathe again...
Metamorphose her? I just met her. (Season 2 Week 3)
"This is a story all about how my halfling life got turned upside down."
The air in my lungs was fresh... It reminded me of my childhood. It was almost sweet, cool, and felt good. I opened my eyes slowly seeing no forest, but a large savannah. There was a cool mist hovering over the ground. It was a vast expanse, a few scattered trees, and a large amount of deer and herbivores grazing. I looked to my left, and there was much shorter Prios. He was only 10 feet tall now, but I felt shorter. I looked down briefly and noticed I wasnt myself. I was a halfling, small stubby little thing. I felt... free though. I heard no voice. I felt no weight on my back, no breathe down my neck. It was rejuvenating. One of the other halflings, whose features I did not recognize said something to Prios and I saw him cast some sort of magic at him. Phineas asked what this place was, and Prios said it was a memory of his. He had saved this moment of time to return to. We had asked for answers and this was how he planned to give them to us. I looked around quickly and noticed five halflings in total besides me. Phineas, the strange one, and another who was slowly getting to his feet, but there were two who remained motionless on the ground. One of the small things had a mohawk. As I quickly checked the pulse of the other one not moving, I moved to the mohawked halfling who I knew to be Grenk. He was catatonic like the halfling from the crater. He even had the same eye twitch. I quickly asked, what is happening to them? Prios simply said they were resisting the 'change'. They were mentally trapped between worlds and it was up for them to decide. He said one way or another they will change, but they will be ok in the end. He added that we had a long way to go to see what we came here for. There was no time to waste.
I objected that we could not leave Grenk behind, he was vulnerable. He was just a small barbarian... He was just like me... The moment kind of left me stunned. The parallel of him now, to me as a child, really resonated in me. I felt sorry for treating him so poorly, I was basically my tribesmen. Thankfully, Phineas ran over and tamed a deer. At the same time, the one who was victim to Prios' magic also called one over. I took off the loincloth, which was all I had. The others followed suit and we tied Grenk and the one who must have been Ramar to the two deer as we ran to catch up with Prios. As the shock of the situation slowly drifted away, I was more able to take in the surroundings. I noticed there was a stone feature in the distance, probably close to 8-9 miles away. This was going to be a long walk with short legs. Not that I ever had the biggest stride, but this was even worse than normal.
We spent a long while walking, at times we had small bits of conversation. Prios mentioned that this was the start of halfling life, and also the story of the one halfling who showed him people could change. With my senses back, I took note of the traveling party. Phineas and Celeborn were up and accepting their halfling stories, while Grenk and Ramar were the ones unconscious. I should have known Grenk would have been too stubborn to be a halfling. This new addition, the one who called himself Lyle Foreststalker(Timbahwolf), made Grenk seem like a scholar. He was annoying and unintelligent. I was unsure how he ended up with us. I just hoped he didnt keep us from finding what we came here for. Prios mentioned that my connection the voice doesnt exist here. This was a fragment of time, from before even his existence. The thought of living like this exited me, going back to before the pain, life could be different. He added that this was before Elara was ruined. This is why the sanctity of Saccarash must be protected. This is the origins of halflings and Saccarash.
As we finally approached the stone existence I saw from far away, it was far bigger than I ever could have guessed. There was a huge tree, several thousand feet high, twenty to thirty square miles of roots, so big that its roots crushed a mountain and formed an underground lake. It was a magnificent sight. This should have been a thing of beauty, but it looked like it was dieing. The water in the lake was inky, but Prios waded in and started to produce a canoe for us. I asked if this was Saccarash's former glory, to Prios. He said no. This was the "world tree'. Its power was great, there were legends that her roots reached the core of the planet and used the heartbeat of the world to bring life to the surface. It existed long before Prios was alive. We were here to learn the end of the 'world tree'.
As we pile into the canoe, the one named Lyle, is adamant that the deer come along. It hoped in the water, as we paddle our way along. Prios stated as we went, "As in all things in life there is a balance, where life once sprang, now the opposite has occurred, be on your guard." I asked if we were actually in danger, and Prios said "This is, as it was." I was truly confused but took his warning. I didnt wish to die as a halfling, even though it was as free as I have felt in decades. As we moved along, we started to see this slimy looking thick seaweed like substance covering the water. We did our best to push through them, but it is slow and we were loud. I noticed the waves we were causing are violent. I was unenthused to see that waves were coming back towards us and they were even bigger. I was worried what was out there and Phineas noticed it too. He casted light on his loincloth and stood up to shine the light out. We saw a few humanoid constructs made of rotting decaying matter. They are slowly pushing their way towards us. My first instinct was to destroy them, but I knew my aetheric pact was missing. I would be no help. I asked if we could avoid them. Prios said that this corruption haunts everything here and in our current world. He added that the voice is also corruption. One who corrupts the Aether. At this point, I was not surprised that the evil within me is from the same line as what corrupted this place. It also made sense why Prios was so hard upon first inspection of me. It felt as though he has been slowly reconsidering his first impression. I sincerely hoped I could change his mind. I had great respect for him.
I tried to employ the importance of our goal here to the party and tell them we need to get the hell out of here. We paddled hard and were making great strides, it would have been no issue to outrun this 'corruption' as Prios called it. But then, out of no where, Lyle stands up and jumps out of the canoe, back towards the creatures. This only confirmed to me the lack of mental aptitude of this idiotic halfling. My first instinct was to cast into the water, but alas, nothing came. My pact didnt exist. I had no power here. As Celeborn continued to paddle, Phineas attempted to slow the creatures by growing the plants. Phineas continued to impress me with his quick thinking and magical prowess. All the while, we watched Lyle and his stupid deer take turns struggling to catch up. After both of them almost drowned multiple times they finally anchored back to the boat. I looked over at Prios, he didnt even acknowledge anything that happened. I asked if the water is going to be much longer, and he said "These are the tears of the world tree. This is what your forefathers chose. I am showing you another path. So you can choose to take a different path. Not one that was thrust on you." I know knowledge doesnt come easy, but Prios really hates yes or no answers. I really hoped the point was coming soon, otherwise Lyle was going to get us killed somehow.
As we continued on, we entered a massive cavern. There were some giant worked stone on an island in the middle of the lake. These were unlike anything we had seen to this point, they were large obelisks several hundred feet high, made of alabaster, and unnaturally positioned. I asked what is this place, Prios tells us, "This is where the world tree dies, halflings are born, and Saccarash takes her first breath." I was shocked, that was a lot of very important events all happening at once, I could have only guessed how they were linked. Then he goes on to tell us the world tree resisted the primevals, and would not allow them to control the life force. So the primevals created the halflings to kill the world tree. The small-handed, nature-driven creatures climbed into her. The carved homes in her and drilled into her to gain valuable resources to live. Ultimately they delivered the poison the primevals could not do themselves and killed the world tree. However, there was one halfling when she felt the touch of the earth and the heartbeat of the land, she knew her purpose was tainted. She knew she was corrupted. She sacrificed herself to protect and nurture the failing life and vitality of this world. She became the mother tree. Prios looked at me and made statements about choosing to overcome corruption. I plead to Prios that good and bad are not as well defined. Prios remained sturdy in his belief that all things change. Because of that, Saccarash was born. We walk up to see a small tree whose truck is open, inside is an amber glowing core with a halfling face. Phineas tries to talk to her, it doesnt work. I asked if the halflings name was Saccarash, Prios smiled at me for the first time. He said, "Saccarash has always been Saccarash." I could tell she meant the world to him. One who brought life, when death was certain. Could I have the strength to do the same? IS this the same?
Moments later, Phineas moved up to the tree and touched the amber core. The tree accepted Phineas, and while it looked like it should have been a terrifying process. Phineas walked in and submerge into the bark of the tree, calmly. I could feel the power of the tree resonating as Phineas went in, it was so strong but so welcoming to him. As much respect for I have for all I have learned, I fear for my life if I were to try to touch the tree. I feel as though I am unworthy. Lyle being an idiot, followed. He was also accepted, but it seemed harsher. The roots grabbed him and thrashed him around until he was yanked into the undercarriage of the root system.
Prios spoke up once they were gone, "See, everything changes". Deeply touched by his guidance on so many levels, I wonder about the grand plan that I am but a playing piece in. Would he approve of my alternate motivation? Would redemption lay in this path? I asked Prios a question, "Do you consider the empire good or bad?" He deeply considered it, and said "The empire is finite, balance will always right it eventually." I further inquired if he believed that the empire could change. One last time he said "Everything can change". I turned to Prios, "We dont have to touch it to leave this place correct?" I told him of my fear of unworthiness. He comforted me by saying one doesnt have to touch her, they just have to change.This is just to show you what happened to the halflings. I confided in him that while I still am unsure what has happened to the halflings, I am so thankful. He gave me answers to questions I never would of thought of. I appreciated his guidance and wisdom more than I ever would have imagined. He smiled and said, "Hopefully the next time we meet you will be worthy." He looked at us and closed his eyes, and we departed his memory.
Gift of Amber: Once per long rest you may summon the remnants of amber left in your system to create a translucent cocoon (as per the Shield spell). This effect also grants you advantage on Dexterity saving throws vs effects you can see.
A rekindled effort
As we left Prios' memory I considered many things but foremost in my mind is what I had learned. Prios may not have given me answers that a normal man would have understood. But I am not normal, I am cursed. But this curse has given me insight into a world unknown to people who do not bear what has fallen upon me. The good, the bad, the grey. Life is all about choices, decisions, and even inaction. Much like Prios believes we all have change in us, I have a similar belief. I believe we are all born with all knowledge in our minds, it just has to be awakened. Someone has to ask the right questions of you. Prios was my awakener. I had many ideas, many desires, many thoughts about possibilities. Prios gave me direction. He gave me purpose. He gave me a... "path to choose". This path will not be easy. It will not be the one most people travel. I will hurt friends along it. I will bring change to people who are adverse to it. But... If I do it right. I will be the sacrifice to bring life and love into a world that is on a path for certain death. I hope that one day I succeed in my mission, this great plan that has been set before me by my master. Not because it is designed to benefit my master or stop my pain, but because I believe it will ultimately be his end. He has not been awakened, he does not see what I see. I hope this will lead to my redemption. One day in this life or the next, I pray I am no longer burdened by this curse. I would like to spend more time with Prios, and Kaokao, and Saccarash. Their lives may be simple, but there is a wealth of wisdom beneath their branches and love flows through the waters in their streams. I only hope I am strong enough to see this through and end up worthy enough to see them again...
The Heart of Saccarash is the beat. (Season 2 Week 4)
With a flash of light from Prios' hands and we were torn through the fabric of time and space, back to the foot of Saccarash in present time. I reflected ever so briefly about how good it was to be in my body again, I felt stronger than in the halfling form. Doesnt happen very often where I consider myself stronger physically than someone else. Quickly thereafter, I noticed my surroundings were not what I would have expected. When we left, this place was a vibrant beautiful oasis lit by the hundreds of change orbs. Now, the orbs were all over the ground, almost looking like gelatin smashed against the ground. The light they gave off was next to nothing. Kaokao was gone and Saccarash look almost like she was wilting. What happened while we were gone? Did me being here taint this land? Did the voice punish me for insubordinance? I went to look to Prios for answers, but he was already 100 paces away. He was hustling into the entrance to a tunnel in the roots of Saccarash. I rushed to try to do whatever I could to aid him, and find out what had happened. I heard the bickering of what sounded like Ramar and an unknown annoying voice that could only be Lyle behind me but I race ahead into the maze of roots.
As I raced through the tunnels in the roots of Saccarash, I fumbled in the darkness for a few moments trying frantically to catch up to Prios. Only after getting lost in pure darkness did I remember the torch in my pack. I quickly lit it and moved on deeper in the the bowels of the great mother Saccarash. The path wound with these huge roots that almost have carved out the path for us. Some of them looked like they could be 10 feet or more across. As I finally found the end of the tunnel, it opened into a massive cavern. Prios was across the way kneeling before some giant stone sarcophagus. Again, powered forward by the will to find out whats wrong, I hastily moved out into the open. No regards for my companions who were slowly catching up to me. As I get about halfway across this beautiful open cavern, I notice that the ground is not entirely solid. I look down, and it seems like there is a solid membrane holding down tons of the amber orbs from above. When I first entered, they were not lit up. It appears Prios is stirring them to life. For what purpose? I can only guess. I steadied myself on the shaky ground and again went to move towards Prios.
Moments later Prios still motioning over the large stone coffin, the light beneath my feet cranks up another level, and my focus on getting to Prios cost me my senses. The ambient light and pulsating natural power consumed my thoughts, and I saw the lives of thousands of halflings. I felt myself loosing connection to the world, and Prios was fading from my sights. It was then, someone surprised me. Ramar appeared before me, and talked me back into existence. Maybe I didnt give him enough credit. As I sat up, I saw Prios now seems to have roots thrown over him holding him down to the ground. I had to get to him. Without looking back at Ramar, again I pushed forward with fervor. As I approached though, the membrane holding the orbs down, started to ungulate like waves in the ocean, pushing me away from Prios. He obviously didnt want me here. He didnt want my help. Someone dejected by his denial I turned to see Ramar over Lyle, it was clear Lyle fell to the same pitfall I did. My goal to help Prios no longer a possibility, I rushed to help my friends as Ramar had helped me. I see Ramar get slapped accidentally by Lyle as he flailed during Ramar's attempt to wake him. I tried to hold Lyle down so Ramar could bring him back to his senses, Lyle rejected us. I tried to bury deep into his thoughts to pull him out, but the force was far stronger than my telepathic will. It also rejected me. I looked at Ramar and we both felt like we were losing him. I did the only thing I could think to do. I touched his chest and thought of the entrance to the tunnel, and teleported us there. Ramar quickly ran over to us, Lyle stopped the flailing and we could tell he was saved, but he then collapsed to the ground unconscious. I turned to Ramar and told him to grab one arm, I'd grab the other.
As we started to walk up the tunnel carrying Lyle's dead weight, we paused only for a moment as we note the smell of decay coming from above. The roots that were once majestic along the sides of the tunnel now seemed to be purple and black and dieing. We could sense the corruption above, but we had no choice. We pushed on. The smell of decomposition got stronger and stronger. As we reached the surface, the light was no longer a bright orange from the ambient light of the orbs. It was now a grey light barely creeping through the trees. Once a great forest, where the strong survived and the weak gave way to the next cycle of life, now it seemed like everything was dieing. There was no strength left in the forest. The balance of nature had been tossed aside, the corruption was upon us.
As we turned around, the great mother Saccarash woke from her slumber, as she whipped around violently at us. She slammed at us with harpoon like branches. She pulled herself out from her roots and follows us as we exited her bowels. I knew not what to do, but Prios had taught me one thing, making the right choice is never easy. I laid Lyle down and turned and knelt before Saccarash. Im not sure what I expected, but I hoped for a miracle. "Great mother I mean you no harm! Prios was trying to show us how you came to be, and help us understand better the wonders of this forest. We followed him below your roots because he wouldnt tell us what was wrong. We are before you not as enemies, please.... We dont know what to do..." The great and alien being towered over us and she paused for only for a moment, and then looked to resume her attack. Then without warning, the earth rumbled with the deep words, "Your day is not today" as multiple lassos of bright beaming light shot forth and snared Saccarash. She quickly snapped some of the snares and we saw the remnants of the lassos turn back to orbs and fall to the ground. And then from the Earth, Prios rose this time, adorned with tree vines and flora, as well as, hundreds of thousands of tiny orbs of light, each pulsing a unique hue. Prios let out another burst of power and summoned more vines to hold back the great mother, and give us time to run. I plead to him to tell me what to do. He said "Saccarash has finally fallen, remember our lessons, bring them to the greater lands. If I survive this confrontation, I will find you. The halflings will need a new place to live." Prios strugged to keep us safe, and quickly urged us to make haste. We picked up Lyle and start wandering out as the two great being fight violently.
The trees were collapsing around us, large wild animals were charging around panicking. We were in danger beyond comprehension and then once more, a saving grace befell us. A large dog-like creature came running up behind us. Kaokao. Kaokao tried to comprehend the situation, why we are running so poorly, and asks about if its time to change. I try to help him understand whats going on, and convince him to bring us to the outskirts of the forest. He agreed it was best to leave and we climbed upon his massive arching back, and he summoned forth roots to protect us like an enclosed caravan. We dashed out, through dangerous falling trees and massive predators six times Kaokao's size, but Kaokao kept us safe. As we got to the edge, we looked back briefly and saw an entirely dead and collapsing forest. It was all gone, nothing was left. We could see all the way to the mountains in the distance. Kaokao said he didnt feel his parents anymore. I gently suggested he came with us, because he could get us back faster. He might also be the lone piece of proof in this wild concoction of a tale. I carefully reach into Kaokao's mind and show him the way. He makes some very astute observations, and it makes me fear for his life. I only hope I am taking the path Prios laid before me. Im not sure whats scarier, what is in front of us, or what was behind us...
Quest of Change
Prios is gone. Saccarash is gone. The halflings are gone. Half our party is missing. The whole fucking forest is gone. We have failed on so many levels, yet we have a baby primordial and we are riding to rush back to Surgot. What the fuck do we do now?
Time to Sow the seeds of Change (Season 2 Week 5)
As we hastily approached the borders of the empire, I sent out a message to Surgot to let him know of our arrival. He didnt seem helpful. Once we got close, we found a small forest to hide Kaokao in while we approached the gates to see what obstacles we faced to get in. As we dismounted Kaokao, we talked to him about the importance of being quiet and calm. Do not change people, run if trouble comes. Upon reaching the gates there was a long line to get in, there was a guard captain who was an obvious old war veteran. Upon initial approach he was resistant to my words, but he came around after telling him some of our story and looking deep into his eyes. I came up with some initial plans, but he had some other ideas. I wanted to bring Kaokao with us, but he wanted nothing to with Kaokao. He didnt even want to help him. In retrospect, I guess I understand where he was coming from as a captain, a guard, or even just as a human being. Im not sure what I was expecting but obviously bringing Kaokao in was going to be impossible, my only hope is we can avoid any issues so that way we can find some way to help Prios. I owe Prios a lot... Ultimately we came to a solution for the guards to protect the forest and not Kaokao directly. He also warned me of the consequences if anything happened, about how much we were putting ourselves on the line. He tells us to maneuver him to a forest to the southeast which is isolated and easier for his men to protect.
As we get to the forest, Phineas volunteered to stay back and help keep Kaokao calm. Kaokao means well, but I fear for him on so many levels. As we leave the forest, I see the guards armed, to try to kill Kaokao if something goes wrong. This is going to go poorly. I only hope that Surgot can help us. Otherwise I have wasted a lot of time, and taken a lot of chances with his son. I told everyone as we hustled through the gates, "Keep your head down, we dont want any trouble." Things look a lot different these days. People are... restless. We managed to get to Surgot without much trouble, though. He is a crazy person. Stuck in a small closet trying to keep records of everything that happens in the world. I almost pity him. Im pretty sure Prios would find this to be a waste of life. I did take note of the tunnels and gates and security presence. It was impressive. It was obvious they are scared.
As we finally entered, Surgot made it seem as though he was welcoming. He quickly changed his tone after my initial summary. As we were about to get into the story, someone knocked. A very pretentious, pompous, racist, and obviously wealthy man by the name of Tiberius Trusala entered. He felt it was his duty to be there to hear our tale. He was not a lifelong statesman, I could tell. The calluses on his hands gave away his past life as a hardy adventurer. As I briefly got into our story, he seemed very keen on listening to everything I had to say. I quickly got the feeling that he came not to listen to what I had to say for learning of the situation, but rather he wanted to use the said information to influence and pursue his own goals.
Tiberius twisted my words about the halflings, Saccarash, Prios, and Kaokao. The one that worried the most was Kaokao, he wanted to use Kaokao for personal and/or imperial gain. I think I could have dealt with his misinterpretations or misconceptions had he not ventured to wanting to basically interrogate Kaokao. With all the bad that has befell our group, Kaokao and Prios were the two blessings afforded to us. With Prios no longer being with us, I found his mantle being left on my shoulder. As he slandered the halflings, defiled the name of Saccarash, and urged the need to purge all of the above from the world, I felt an anger rising. Using any form of reason seemed to fall on Tiberius' deaf ears. He only heard what he wanted. He is fearful of the world, as he should be, but sometimes fear gets in the way of life though. They place fear in things that they should embrace and ignore or are ignorant to things they should fear. The longer we spent in there, the more frustrated I got. It ultimately came down to Tiberius viewing all information as a figurehead to a people, where as, we saw our experiences as what they actually were. With my knowledge, that I didnt tell them... I fear they are far worse off then I had suspected. Tiberius continued on talking about how he would use the people as pawns. Sacrifice ten to save a thousand. As much as I hate his reasoning and use of it, I find myself put in the same situation. Will I sacrifice myself , if I truly believe it will save ten thousand? Regardless of my conviction to the plan my master has set in front of me, I believe this group, this empire, is finite, just as Prios said.
After Surgot and Tiberius spent a lengthy time conversing about tactical matters and idiotic plans, he thanked us for our work bringing this all to light. He granted us each three coins that bore the crest of his family, which he told us could be "Traded" for our "needs". Being in bed with someone like this does not sit well with me, but maybe at some point I could use his influences to empower my own. I took the coins begrudgingly. Surgot mentioned that he was going to arrange "accommodations" for Kaokao. Tiberius then took his leave. With him gone, my intentions were to get back to Kaokao as soon as possible, knowing his lack of compassion towards him. I walked to Surgot and said, "I dont trust Tiberius, and dont like his view on the world." Surgot urged me not to trust anyone, and I fired back for him to so the same, only if he knew what he was against. I warned him of the future. He seemed to hollowly accept my warnings. I pushed him further to ask what he wanted from us. After a brief explanation, I could see we werent going to see eye to eye. So I told him, "We'll leave now, and were taking Kaokao with us..." and I turned around and left without listening to anything else he said. I heard footsteps follow, I guess I got Ramar and Celeborn rallied to my cause. All our stories are still being written, but I fear none of them will end well.
Reward: 100g and 3 "Trusala" coins.
The Post Game Wrap-up
After my meeting with Tiberius and Surgot, I stomped back to the woods to spend time with Kaokao. The future for me is going to be dangerous, no matter which path I choose. I am worried for my friends, both the primordials and the mortals. Maybe Phineas will have some much needed insight on the situation. But I cant help but feel as though Prios was wrong to tell me to bring the message here. I wasted my time. I should have done whatever was in my power, to try to help him. Maybe I still have time to make it up to him, cause I feel as though I have failed him to this point...
Tides of Change (Season 2 Week 6 - Downtime)
After reaching Kaokao and Phineas, I was pleasantly surprised that none of the guards entered. They were scared but they kept to their word of not entering. Upon seeing Phineas and Kaokao in the forest still, I felt a sense of relief. Phineas was still playing with Kaokao, and Kaokao was being his amusing self. I reflected on everything that occurred, in the Weald and here. I have always felt like a pawn in a great big game of chess, but I feel now that is overestimating my role. The grand scale of this war is far beyond me, yet I may have the best idea of anyone within the empire of the true evils they will all face. Before this is all over, death with reach the empire. The weight of my role, the situation and the events we had just partaken in seen to all catch up to me at once. I leaned back and sat against a tree. Not exactly the ideal time or place to rest, but at least I would be close to Kaokao if something were to happen, I thought, as my eyes closed without warning. I felt my consciousness drift away from me. Darkness over took me. He was back.
Ive got a bad feeling about this Ruins of the Weald (Season 2 Week 7)
We opened with the Party talking a ton, we left on Kaokao to go back to the weald. We met the evil halflings, either reverted or reborn by Saccarash. They are not welcoming. They want Kaokao. Initially I inform our other companions more about the forest and my knowledge. After much debate, I finally give in to the group about taking them head on. I didnt want to risk Kaokao but at least this way we'd be fighting with Kaokao against them. Kaokao of all of them was the one to ultimately persuade me, it is his home, and his dad. We then ran in head first into their ambush. I was not going to give an inch to them with Kaokao at stake. I took the brunt of the damage, while having a magic duel with the crazy evil halfling leader. While I had her distracted, Kaokao stomped her to death. Stole her wand and the remainder fled. This is going to be a long excursion.
More Coming soon(TM)!
Reward: Level 9! Also a wand.
Ent-ropy (Season 2 Week 8)
Quickly traveling deeper into the forest we saw Saccarash. She was manned my hundreds of evil halflings. And they seemed to be readying for war. We ran away because we knew we couldnt fight them, we proposed we make a journey to where Saccarash and PRios made their old home and maybe look for clues to find Prios. As we were on route, Kaokao was going top speed and Ramar fell off the great being and fell down through the ground into an underground lake. Who just happened to be hiding in that lake? Prios. He was alive, we had a chance. Prios was not as hopeful, he believed there only to be two ways to save the forest at this time, throw hundreds of thousands of men into it or become a ward to the forest as Saccarash did eons ago. This magic was long lost but there is a person for to the west could supply us with powerful magic to ward against the evil. He was a coward who hid from the past wars though. But if we found him and convinced him to help, we just might have a chance. Prios gave us one last gift, allowing us to use the Waystones of the land. I promised to Prios I would do whatever I could to help him, halflings and the weald. I felt as we left, I would never see him again though.
A Brave New World (Season 2 Week 9 Downtime)
As I awoke from my meditation near the stone, I found myself in a tropical forest. No one around as far as I could see. I carefully explored the surrounding area and slowly made my way following some stones that seemed to be a make shift path. I did not recognize this terrain as anything I had frequented before, and the stones has a small glow of the aether. Im not sure where I am, but somehow I feel as though I was meant to be here. Maybe Prios sent me here, maybe my master did, but as lost as I feel, I also feel like something is driving me forward.
Last Grain of Sand (Season 2 Week 10)
After wandering through the forest for a few hours, I found my way to what turned out to be a beach. It appeared we were on an island of some sorts. Far away from the lands we called home, and by pure happenstance, as I exited the forest to the beach landscape, some of my previous companions were walking down the beach following the same stones I had followed. Maybe I underestimated some of them. We traveled down the beach a ways before coming to a large pile of said stone with a dragon statue on top. As we looked at the situation further it appears as though the stone was once used to construct a magic dome to protect the island. But the magic on this pile of rocks still existed. We could see the island how it used to be when we stood on it, through a magic bubble that was invisible to anyone on the outside. As we made our way to the top of the pile the dragon head inquired about our presence and threatened to kill us. We talked of current beings like the empire. And its long lost knowledge had no knowledge of this, so I brought up the only name I knew that would be older than life itself, Prios. The name at least for now gained us sanctuary and it told us to proceed to the volcano laboratory on the far side of the island.
As we approached the volcano it had a few minor layers of protection spells which we were for the most part able to get by without much of a hitch. Celeborn didnt like the poisonous mist much but that's okay. As we climbed higher we found a tunnel that took us inside the volcano and into the magma chamber. Above the chamber was a piece of rock floating with broken beakers, assorted devices and tons of pages. We carefully made our way across and started investigating. This was obviously some long lost place, I wonder if this was the person's lair that Prios mentioned, did he leave and/or die? Could this whole trip be for nothing?
From Whence They Came (Season 2 Week 11)
After spending a few minutes reading all the pages scattered on the ground. Pug and I quickly realized the importance of a lot of this documentation. It seemed to be hundreds of thousands of pages of research on primordials and primevals. I tried to find more information on various things, most notably my master. But it was so unorganized and large parts seemed to be missing. It also had mentions of creating a primordial, and as we found out later, this being had been successful on many levels. While we were helping ourselves to what we assumed was an abandoned laboratory. We heard a faint flapping and down from the heavens through the opening in the volcano gracefully appeared a large crystalline dragon. He later introduced himself as Aza. He was unhappy with our presence. We mentioned our desire to see the master. After some hesitation he let us know that the master of the island, Ambrose, his father, was taken. We asked if we could do anything to help. In return, theoretically Ambrose would be able to help us. Aza was skeptical at first and his first gift was to Pug a scale of himself that would curse Pug for his hubris if he does not succeed. Turn him to stone. This scale though would allow Pug to scry for Ambrose. I conversed with Aza very briefly while Pug was completing the scry, also negotiating a weapon for Celeborn, a gemerald of great value to help Pug's scry, as well as some ancient magic slave device for Ramar to help conserve or powers. He informed us of his brothers, and his sister who was a failed experiment who left the island. Pug seemed to know her.
As Pug began to channel the location, he described it to us. It was a large underground chamber, with no entrance or exit. It had magical runes all over the inside of the walls. There was necromatic energy and bright glowing pure energy chains restricting this great crystal dragon. The bricks making up the chamber seemed to be red sandstone blocks which were most found in the Cindovar region of the empire. We tried a few ways to gain clues to the whereabouts, with mostly no overwhelming clues to go with. From what Pug described though this seems like very similar work to my masters doings. Im unsure how that will all play out if it does occur. At this point we need the dragon's knowledge for multiple reasons. Im not sure if he would allow us access, to keep my goals on track.
The Dragon Chained (Season 2 Week 12)
Upon completing the ritual, we talked briefly and Aza went to leave us, but as he did, he was struck by a lightning bolt and fell back to the earth. Celeborn was able to nimbly move under him and brace Aza's fall probably saving him from instant death. What floated down next was a large gold dragon. The being who never gave us his name, spoke primeval. The language my master granted me. He was rude, harsh and intimidating. He asked for the body of the dragon to be torn apart because it was a waste of aether to make that monstrosity. He acknowledged me as a pawn in a game of chess. He also talked to Pug about being betrayed. Originally I thought he was giving away my role, but later figured out it was not his intention. He was revealing another traitor one that even surprised me as I put the pieces together. But basically this gold dragon was following pug and killing the primordials he met. I talked to him briefly in Primeval to see what information he would bestow upon me but he seemed to praise my role. My master will be happy he said. I can only hope if I continue it will be enough to get out from under his thumb. Celeborn was against giving up dragon, but Pug and I both knew that this was not a fight we could win. We convince him begrudgingly to give it to this evil creature. I feel as though I may have been to brash speaking in primeval in front of the group, but I think with everything else going on. While they might not trust me 100%, I dont think they are looking to crucify me as a primeval either. It sounds like they have their own problems to deal with and I have mine, and it will probably lead us separate directions for now but we shall see where we all end up. We left dejected from our encounter back towards the waystones, to try to go home.
The King , The Queen, and the Pawn (Season 2 Downtime)
After our adventure to the weald, twice, and the island of dragon treasure, I was actually looking forward to going back to the empire. Some sense of normalcy. After bidding farewell to Ramar, Celeborn, and Pug, I headed for the gates of the Empire. My intention was to talk with Surgot and try to gain his assistance in finding out more about Ambrose and where he might be trapped within the empire. Hopefully saving him would be enough to gain his trust to help me save Prios. At least then I would feel like I did one good thing in my life that wasnt aided by this curse I bare.
As I approached the citadel, I noticed an increased guard presence at the gates. There seemed to be a lot of shouting and chaos. I noticed quickly there seemed to be some commotion about a hellion being kicked out of the city. He was pleading with them not to make him leave and they responded with violence. I heard them briefly mention something about Emperor Trusala, and his new policies. This was news to me, why was he the emperor? I approached the gate slowly and asked to be let in, I had business with Surgot. Before I even finished Surgot's name I was encircled by multiple guards. One of them ordered me to surrender. I assured them I meant no harm and this was all a big understanding, I was merely out doing a favor for Surgot and Tiberius, and after many weeks away I just got back. They seemed confused at my mention of the two names together. "Here, I have proof let me just get this out of my pack." I slowly reached into my pack carefully and brought forth a small bronze coin with the Trusala crest that he had given me earlier. The guards let their weapons drop and apologized to me. I asked what happened while I was away. They explained to me that Surgot and some of his agents killed the emperor and kidnapped the empress and tried to kill Tiberius as well.
I was in shock. I did not hold a high opinion of Surgot or the Emperor but I didnt think Surgot was capable of murder. He looked more like a paper-pusher. Does this mean my task was complete? Could I be freed from this curse? I asked the guards if they would be willing to send word to Tiberius of my return and suggest a place for me to wait for him to send for me. They sent a missive to Tiberius in my name and directed me to a guard station just outside of his gates where they would be able to guide me in. I thanked them for their help after the initial problem. As I strolled through the streets I noticed a lot more of the brown cloaked people, and no diversity. Many of the humans seemed scared. There was very little happiness in the air. It was one of the most uncomfortable walks Ive ever walked.
More to come soon (TM)
- Stian Bjarke is Norse for "The one bear who wanders".