Descent of Darkness

Werewolves, oh my!
on the Trade Road

After spending a night in Belanöth I, along with the rest of the party, set off towards the Amberdeen plains and the dubious task of hunting down some harder-than-hell to find overgrown portals. It still seems strange to be sleeping under a roof when most of the places I had spent the night in as a Street had been missing walls or a roof and usually most of both. Even a season spent under Lorne’s roof hadn’t cured me of that vague uneasy sense of being closed in and trapped in a fully functional building. I’ll be happy when we’re back spending nights on the road with the open sky above and plenty of space between me and anyone else.

I never had needed much sleep, something I could most likely thank my elven heritage for since none of the others I had known growing up could go on only 3 or 4 hours of sleep and be perfectly fine in the morning. Stringing a hammock between two crumbling walls in an unused and rarely-traveled nook of the city to catch up on those few hours of sleep I did need had kept me safe and out of Farl’s hands more times than I could count. It was almost force of habit now to sleep the same way. Trees were a nice subsitute for walls and it kept me above the ground, where I could avoid wild animals and someone randomly stumbling into the camp we had. The others may have looked at me strangely a time or two but I didn’t care. It was safer; for them and me!

We traveled uneventfully for about six days, learning Draconic with Gareth and the other dragon-elf. It’s not been too bad, just slow. The others looked at me a little strangely after about the second or third day of not eating in front of them but they seemed to have grown a little more used to it for now. I don’t like others seeing my face, especially now that I’ve seen what Farl is capable of. Who knows where his cronies may be or when he will strike. I never thought he’d touch Lorne but here I am, with an adventuring party and not spending the next month or two at his blacksmithing shop, as I’d originally planned when I arrived back in Aldritch. I trusted no one.

On the sixth evening we camped I started hearing wolves howling in the distance. They seemed pretty far away by the sound of the howls so I went back to arranging my hammock and thought little more of it. Between us all, I’m sure we could handle a few wolves if they decide to get too close to our little camp. I kicked back and started watching the stars as the rest of the camp settled for the night.

A little while after that, though, I watched in amazement as Rabble led someone new, along with a bunch of other humans into the camp! There were a ton of them! I hoped he wasn’t planning on sharing our supplies – we needed them for this adventure – who knows how long it would take! Turns out they weren’t humans at all – they were werewolves! This world is bigger than I had ever imagined! Just a year ago I had only ever seen a human. Now I had met dragons, gnomes, a half-orc, and werewolves! I don’t think anything could surprise me! There are so many more races I didn’t know even know existed! They can change into wolves! That is a pretty neat trick and would have come in handy a time or two in Aldritch. I didn’t know what to expect and what werewolves were like so I just stayed in my tree and observed. They seemed alright as far as I could tell, though I still kept my crossbow handy just in case. They seemed very close-knit. And they had families! I think that was the strangest part. I’ve never seen families with and actual mom and dad and a kid, all together! There were a couple young werewolves wrestling and I caught Kaine playing with a couple of the little ones in the morning, though when he saw me looking he quickly acted like he hadn’t been. He has a kind heart, kinder than the rest of us, though I don’t think he wants anyone to know. The more I see of him, the more he reminds me of Blink. It makes me, just a little, wish I could get to know him better. Him and the rest of the party. They are intriguing and when I was really small my one desperate and oft-repeated wish was to have a family and true friends of my own. But no! Kaine and the others were a means to an end – NOT friends. They were business associates helping to complete a task that would pay handsomely; nothing more. I couldn’t afford to let them be anything more. I didn’t need friends! Those who got too close to me wound up dead or worse and I was done letting people in. Besides, all I needed to do was finish finding these portals so I could get the money and skills I needed to decimate Aldritch. Fuck Aldritch; from Farl who had tortured me and killed Lorne and Streets who had bullied me and ostracized me for as long as I could remember to the petty and better-than-thou people who lived on the good side of Aldritch and never lifted a finger to help the starving children dying on the other side of the city. When I was through they would burn to ashes in agony – burn and bleed until not even the memory of their names remained any longer. Everyone but the littles – Blink and probably Lorne too, for that matter, would have wanted them safe; I could do that much in their memory at least. But everyone else would be dead when I was through – even if it cost me my own life. I didn’t care – the price would be worth it! Worth it for those I had lost; for the childhood I had never had. I was done cowering and letting others hurt me. Whatever it takes, I will destroy them all!

First Steps
the journey begins

Task from the dragon-elves accepted, I found myself stepping through a magical portal into another place. Grassy and green – too green. And the noises I made as I moved through the brush and the trees were a lot different from what I was used to as well; way too loud. I don’t like these forests…

Kaine, Rabble, Swizzle and I travel together to find the dragon’s portals, with Gareth and Waryk accompanying us as guides, at least until we reach the first portal. Though we stepped through a portal and now know what they look like, it will still be hard to find all the missing portals. They are overgrown and barely recognizable unless you know exactly where you are looking. The treasure though – it will all pay off in the end. It will be worth the frustration and putting up with the rest of the party.

After exiting the portal, I and the rest of the group find ourselves about fifty miles north of Belanöth, according to our guides, and next to a large road. Between us, we decide that Belanöth will be our best bet on figuring out where to go next, as the two dragon-elves have a contact there who will know more about where exactly the known portals are. We had been traveling along for awhile, I on the grassy side. It makes me uncomfortable to stride out in plain view on such an open road. Too dangerous. Who knows what or who may be lurking where you least expect it. And I am not as silent or as hidden as I would be on my own. I mislike it greatly.

After a time travelling, though, I heard a sharp whistle and went over with Gareth and Waryk to investigate a large humanoid-shaped piece of metal that Rabble found. It looked dangerous to me – large and bulky. Who knew how strong – it looked like it was made entirely of some kind of metal! I climbed a nearby tree and shouldered my crossbow in readiness for any fighting, though there turned out to be no need. As the rest of the party started talking to the thing, I climbed down and listened. It didn’t know much – nothing related to what we were searching for, and it wanted to die. I was more than happy to oblige the thing so we could get on with our task but the others talked it out of wanting to die and it accompanied us on our way towards the city. Whatever. It doesn’t matter to me, as long as it doesn’t slow us down; I just want to get a move on and get the portals investigated so we can get our treasure and I can have my revenge on Aldritch and most especially Farl.

The rest of our trip to Belanöth was uneventful. When we arrived I saw that it was bigger than Aldritch had been. The good side was large and patrolled by guards. I bet the bad side is even worse than the one I left behind in Aldritch. The better the wealthy side, the more destitute the poor side. Gareth knew exactly where to go and Swizzle and I followed him to a shop called Rusty Treasures , where we finished our business (Swizzle, Lunara, & Gareth) and headed back to meet up with Kaine, Rabble, and Waryk, who had gone off on their own to see the armorer instead of sticking with Gareth to find the portal’s locations and continue our task. Foolishness. But at least they are returned now and we can start bright and early in the morning. The sooner the better, for there are many portals to find and I need to finish this task in order to plan my revenge. And the sooner that revenge comes, the sweeter it will be.

Of Dragons and Magic
an unexpected adventure

I stalked into the The Smoky Mile Inn, the stomping of my boots striking sharply in the already-crowded common area. Lorne…he can’t be gone! They will pay! I glared menacingly at the patron in the booth next to me. Though most of my scowl was hidden behind the raven-black hood and mask I always wear, he still moved to the other side of the room, backing away nervously and giving me a wide berth as I sat and observed the elf in the common room, offering a job. I smirked humorlessly. This was a chance to be out of the city, a bigger job than any I had yet taken on. So why does it feel so hollow? Revenge. That was all that mattered now – all I cared for. They will pay. No matter who I have to deal with I eyed the elf blackly even elves

So it was I found myself joined with a party I knew nothing of, searching for treasure in a cave somewhere outside of Aldritch. I knew I needed wealth to enact my revenge and this was one of the best chances I saw of getting what I needed. It seemed pretty unimpressive upon first arriving. I saw no treasure and there were so many other people that I doubted any we found would amount to much when split. I decided it would be better to split off from the bigger group. At least then any treasure I found would be mine and mine alone. I found a tunnel that seemed empty and followed it but all I could see were strange blue runes etched onto the walls. I have to keep looking! There has to be something here or they wouldn’t have sent so many searching for it I kept on down the tunnel…

The next thing I knew I was on my knees, a vision overwhelming my senses. The images flashed so fast I only caught snippets here and there, though I remember blood and the awful piercing screaming. And dragons! I had thought dragons only children’s stories but they seemed real enough inside my head. I looked up and saw five other people around me. Others from the cave expedition. I definitely remembered the towering half-orc and the thrice-bloodied elf that had started us on this exploration. I gathered my wits, loath to be vulnerable for even a second, especially in front of strangers. I bounded back to my feet as soon as I was able.

I was sure we hadn’t been in the caves overly long but the sky where we were was streaked with the early spattering of starlight that only comes just before dawn. We seemed to be next to a path, though the gods-forsaken elves next to us said we could do nothing but wait until night fell. I hate feeling trapped. It smacked too much of Farl’s domain. I strode swiftly to the edge of the fog-filled area around us, though some kind of barrier prevented me from going very far. I cursed under my breath Damn elves! I thought I could hear the lapping of water but I couldn’t see past the fog. I paced around the edge of the barrier, hoping for some way through, but found none. I hate being boxed in The area around the forest was utterly silent, though. Too silent. I could tell something wasn’t right. When I found I could do nothing to bypass the barrier or to find a break in it, I climbed into a tree and settled to watching the others I had found myself with. I learned from their banter that the half-orc’s name was Kaine and his companion’s was Rabble. They seemed ok enough. I could tell the half-orc didn’t like being trapped any more than I did. And I did like his sass. At least he wasn’t afraid to stand up to the elves and try to figure out some answers. There was also a small gnome named Swizzle, who was too boisterous for my tastes but who at least kept the attention off of me. I settled in and waited until the bastard elf with the metal arm said we could finally leave the area, at dusk.

At last, we finally found ourselves on the move once more. We walked for over an hour until we came to yet another cave. Sacred or something, according to the elf leading us. The other elf without a metal arm was less than useless – too busy freaking out about being there to actually do any good. I dismissed him. Crying and losing your wits never got you anywhere but dead. He was obviously not the leader – the metal-armed elf was. There better be some treasure at the end of this screwed-up expedition

We finally made it to the caves only to find a group of 20-some elves all lined up in a circle! ELVES! WHY did it have to be ELVES! I scowled and pulled my hood up a little more. But, in the end, I found out that these creatures were not actually elves. They were dragons!! Actual dragons! And there was apparently some sort of prophecy our whole group was part of. Destiny or fate or some other such crap. I don’t know…I wasn’t really paying attention too closely. I did have some sort of magical blue glowing thing on my chest, along with Kaine, Swizzle, and Rabble. I don’t know how I feel about that yet. I don’t like getting mixed up in magical things – especially things I don’t fully understand. Also, one of the other dragon-elves with copper robes seemed to take a weird interest in me. He looked at me strangely and asked my lineage. Didn’t he know I was an elf? Obviously. I pulled my hood up tighter just in case. I don’t like people looking at me. The less people remember you, the better – it always leads to trouble later on down the road.

But the treasure!! We did get treasure! And not just a little, either. The dragon-elves gave us 500 gold pieces each! And that was not even a small drop in the amount of treasure they had hoarded away. I saw an entire cavern dripping with treasure!! They asked us to go investigate some more portals and they would let us have AS MUCH OF THE TREASURE AS WE WANTED! It was like a dream. I could travel with these people awhile, even the elf-dragons, now that I knew they weren’t entirely elves, if it meant a portion of that treasure! I would be able to do everything I wanted and more! I could hire an army and wipe out the Streets if I really wanted to. I grinned savagely and turned my thoughts towards what I would do when the dragon’s task was complete and the gold I needed was mine.

out of the frying pan... into the...
well isn't that ironic...

So once again I’ve been enslaved by a race of magical beings of above average height. And once again I’m told to do things. At least with these guys I am being paid. So I guess a step up in some form or fashion. maybe I’m getting ahead of myself… lets go back to the kidnapping.

I took that job with Rabble and we I guess investigating some runes. When suddenly it was like I had been cuffed from out of the blue by a Storm Giant. My vision was shuttered by a bright flash, only no pain.

I had a vision… I don’t recall all of it, but it sure was convoluted. When I awoke, I jumped to my feet because I was sure we were about to encounter something unsavory. And I was half right… That @$$hole Gareth was there as was our guide in the mines, Waryk. I immediately felt that invisible fist tightening its grip. The taste of bile was heavy in my mouth, and I felt anger like none I’d felt since leaving the Storm Giants. One of the elves told us to sit down until dusk… I do not recall which one.

I began to walk into the mist that surrounded our “campsite”… nearly falling down as I walked into a solid barrier. Following the barrier with my hands, I traced our cell. The small ones and the thief had been talking to Waryk by the time I returned. Gareth did not seem happy about that.

After a few moments of banter, Waryk’s silence was found on the other side of Gareth’s threat. I sat against the barrier for the rest of the afternoon in silence. Rabble shouted jeers about “digging under the barrier…” I pity him, because he is unfamiliar with the weight of captivity. I suppose that is a good thing… perhaps I can help shield these other from feeling it as well.

Mid-afternoon came and Gareth let down the barrier containing us. We began to walk to find “the cave of elders” where “everything would become clear” once we got there" at the appointed time" because we were “chosen people”. Elves are so full of crap… Pardon… not Elves. But I’ll get to that in a bit. Gareth got us lost and even when we arrived at the cave, we had to wait “a few more minutes” before entering… Of course. I think they were just screwing with us to make us feel helpless. I remember thinking “I guess we will just play their game.” When the half elf said we could go in I made a sidelong comment about still being able to see my hands and it not being quite dark enough. I saw him clench his mechanical fist and tighten his jaw. That was when I knew I had his number.

We entered a very large cave which opened into an even larger cavern with a partial circle of old elves. They were dressed in different colored robes and were crazy old… even for elves.

One of them got up and directed us to sit and motioned as seats rose from the ground. After we all sat, including waryk and the tin man, this old guy, Brodim, told us about how confused he was by our appearance. He quoted an old prophecy, and said we were all elements. He got really worked up and I thought he might rupture something. I tried not to care, these were after all my captors. But something about the passion in the old mans voice struck a cord. Another elder, Ashtaneth, tried to explain the situation as well. She even offered us payment if we would help to unwrite the prophecy.

MY compatriots are inquisitive, I can learn as much by sitting silent as I can asking questions. The small spritely one, I believe her name is Swizzle, asked why elves wanted to save dragons or something akin to that. And then she showed us… they all did. One by one shedding their frail wrinkled frames each elf became wholly transformed. They were dragons in disguise… just as I had suspected. Chromatic, Metallic, Eternal… they were all there. Apparently Waryk and Gareth are dragons as well. I do not know how I feel about this.

Once… the group… gathered their wits about them again, someone asked how they knew we were these"elements" that were prophesied. And it was time for a magic show again. The lights went out. I and the three others I was with had glowing shapes one their chest. Each vaguely similar but also distinct.

So we are chosen to thwart some prophecy by a Council of Elders. Pieces to a puzzle more grand than we could have ever known. Maybe this isn’t slavery after all. Coerrsion perhaps… but not slavery. These creatures are as imprisoned by this pact as we are. The only thing left to question… is destiny.

Who knew?

Rabble Wadderbabble

There are bioluminescent rats that live in these caves! They have no fur per se, but look to have a light fuzz.

The luminescence is along their undersides from mouth to tail. They can change the intensity of the light they give off. I approached one and it gave off light like the pop of a spark from a fire. Perhaps it is a defense mechanism? I know it took me a couple moments to recover and when I did the rat was gone.

A Long Day

It had been a long day, but the fighting was finally over. No one in our delving party had died, but morale sure had. The dwarves of Cane Copper Mines were relentlessly pushing deeper into the mountain at a dangerous pace.

They were causing my clan to cut corners during delvings. How many underground streams hadn’t we mapped? How many slime dens hadn’t been fully burned out? We were supposed to be professionals and instead most of us felt like common burners. These fool dwarves and their lust for metals… and, I, a druid, helping them. Well, at least I know my work saves lives…

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