Descent of Darkness


We are definitely making progress. After our encounter with these strange creatures called Cheetahs I am a little bit nervous about what may come with the plagued cannibalistic gnomes. On a more positive note, I think that Lunara is starting to open up! She actually shook my hand! I hope that she can open up enough to trust us. I want to be her friend and for all of us to be unified. If we want to survive, this I believe is the only way that we can fulfill what we are destined to do. Some things are still a mystery, some of us are discovering our past, some are gaining new knowledge, and others are experiencing new powers. Who knows what may happen next. It is all rather exciting.

Strange things

Oblivious blackness envelopes me for what feels an eternity; a blessed relief after the previous night’s violent emotional upheavals. I finally open my eyes to find myself staring at the wall of one of the village tents. I can hear Swizzle talking and moving behind me but I ignore it and close my eyes again with a wince, pretending to sleep. Part of me wants to stay here forever; forget yesterday ever happened. Forget the visions; forget the loss of Lorne’s pendant; forget that something in me snapped late last night in the darkness. I feel different but I don’t know how yet; it scares me. I don’t even remember how I got back to the tent – the last thing I remember I was in a secluded area of the village, outside. Have I been wrong all these years? I wonder bleakly.

Swizzle is still trying to talk to me. With a deep inward sigh, I finally answer her and start getting out of bed. I don’t understand how she can be so damnably chipper all the time! She chatters worse than any of the kids I knew in Aldritch. Suddenly images of the elves in the past part of my vision flash before my eyes. My…family?? Ngh! Not THIS again! I can’t have a family…even the word sounds…wrong somehow I just want to forget the visions ever happened… But the laughing elven children spinning in a circle lingers, the laughter echoing in my mind. The little ones free and uninhibited by anger or fear or starvation… Like Swizzle I think. Maybe I haven’t been trying hard enough. Swizzle has never been anything but nice to me. My gut clenches; all of my instincts screaming at me to back away from the situation…but I extend my hand slowly and tremulously manage to utter “Friends?” even so. My emotions balance on a knife point as I wait to see how she reacts.

When she grabs my hand to shake it, grinning from ear to ear, I heave a sigh of relief and release the breath I didn’t even realize I’d been holding. Swizzle wants to be my friend! Even after everything that has happened so far; all the times I’ve pushed and shoved her and everyone else away. Even after almost leading her into a pack of cheetahs yesterday! I feel warmth spreading through me as I smile inwardly but I can’t let it show! I look around the room, trying to come up with a scathing remark or something to throw things off again when my eye falls on my pack; my crescent moon pendant laid out on top! I gasp and run to it! It IS! It’s my pendant! How did it get here? Someone must have given it back… Waryk??? or maybe… I ask Swizzle if she put the pendant there but she says no. I feel better just holding it. I quickly slip it on… Thinking hard for a moment, I finally decide to hide it away under my clothes. I don’t want anyone to think that I hold with elves at all but I don’t want to give the pendant up again either. I just won’t wear it where anyone can see.

Swizzle and I go to leave the tent, only to find Gattican in the way. Swizzle, he, and I talk a bit and, somehow, we shake hands and become friends too. TWO friends in one day! That’s more than I’ve ever made at one time before! Part of me is terrified but another part is strangely thrilled. More emotions that are too hard to sort through at the moment. My mind racing, I wander off on my own through the village and decide to go search out Waryk. Waryk who, when all is said and done, has also been fairly nice I suppose. Not that I think just being nice gets you anywhere but I figure if anyone knows how to figure all of this emotional crap out – it’ll be him. And I’m pretty sure he’s the one who gave me my pendant back; without me even having to feel all humiliated asking him for it. He is the last one who had it after all…

When I finally find him and pull him aside to talk, though, he REFUSES to help! And he’s not even the one who gave my pendant back!! I can’t figure out who else it would be! Waryk tells me to go find Kaine or Gareth, as they’ll be better able to help me figure things out. It feels stupid but I do want to get back to my normal self and through all these awful emotions. And Waryk SAW what Farl did. I hope that no one else knows…I wondered if he’d been the one to scry me but hadn’t really dared to ask before this. So humiliating! Damn. I start to feel angry again but I leave to hunt out Kaine and hope that he’ll be able to put things into perspective so I can clear my head. He DID save me from the cheetahs yesterday, at great risk to himself. Even after I stormed out on everyone… Maybe we can be friends too, like Swizzle, Gattican, and I. I do admire the way he handles himself. And the way he treats others when he thinks no one is looking reminds me of Blink..

But the conversation with Kaine goes even worse than the one with Waryk, if that’s possible. I open my fucking soul: as raw and open as I have EVER been with someone and he practically spits it back at me. I told him I ADMIRED him – I don’t think I’ve ever told ANYONE else that… I’m still so naïve….a bloody idiot if I thought things would be different; that letting someone in would help… Fuck if I’m going to try and let anyone in again! I remember now why I shut myself out from everyone else so many years before. The agony of rejection so isn’t worth the gain! I thought he was some sort of caring, gentle soul deep down – like maybe we could be friends or something. Fuck that! I didn’t even get a chance to ask. Fuck if I ever try to talk to Kaine about anything important again – him or anyone else, for that matter. The vision threw me off. I forgot my purpose; forgot why I LIKED being on my own. My plans for Farl and for Aldritch… Nobody close means no one can truly hurt you; no one can get in and know enough to mess up your plans… My hand goes to my mask, laying stuffed in a pocket still. I come close to putting it back on; being safe again. But Waryk’s exclamation of being proud of me when he saw me without it earlier today echoes through my mind. He did brush me off but I can’t deny a part of me felt good when he told me he was proud…I can’t decide whether to put it back on or leave it alone. I waver a moment more before finally withdrawing my hand from my pocket, leaving the mask inside. For now, I decide to keep it off…for now…

A Cursed Gift

Rabble Wadderbabble

Well, we have all received our visions. I have a talent now that is also a bit of a curse. I can sense where we need to head in order to reach the next portal. However, it seems that when we stray off course I learn this through a violent physical reaction. My body seizes up, my stomach drops, and I am nearly incapable of doing anything.

So we must move forward. We must not stop. Abandoning this quest is, at least for me, not an option. Am I moving toward the salvation of the world guided by destiny or am I merely a prisoner of this talent marching toward my doom?

Seeing Water
in which the world comes crashing down

My gut churns violently; stabbing tendrils of razor-sharp flames coil and snake throughout my body. They pierce my throat and flood my arms and legs with unbearable heat as the seeing water effects wear off and all of us come to ourselves again. My hands shake not of their own volition, trying to contain that overwhelming energy. I clench them tightly, my throat constricting. The blood pounds so hard in my head I feel it slam against my skull in time to my quickened heartbeat; feel it roar seething through my veins, flooding them completely. I am SO ANGRY and I don’t even know why. I only know I want to scream at everyone until my throat is hoarse and my voice is gone. I want to punch a wall or tree until my fingers bleed and I stop fucking feeling so damn much! A family. I fucking can’t have had a damn stupid, awful family! My course is set and my purpose already honed. It doesn’t matter that once upon a time long ago – like some ridiculous and dangerously naïve fairy-tale – I had a fucking gods-forsaken bloody actual family. And another stab of betrayal; the fucking pendant I’ve been wearing for months now that I thought was some beautiful piece of jewelry that Lorne made or bought in his past is a damn bloody ELVEN pendant! ELVEN!!!! I take it and fling it violently away from me as hard as I can, wishing I could fling the vision away from me as easily and thoroughly. It always comes back to this – back to being a damn ELF! I’d give anything- even my vengeance- to have been born a normal human and not as a bloody elf. I fucking hate elves! I don’t want anything to do with them and I NEVER will. The visions were wrong. This whole “chosen ones” thing is a big bloody fucking joke. I will NEVER learn Elven and I will NEVER ally myself with some pointy-eared, psychotic, touchy-feely, weak, too-long-lived fucking freaks. Fuck!

I take a few ragged, painful breaths and think I have myself back under some control when Rabble turns and makes some snide comment. I don’t even have time to process and answer back fully when Kaine starts in on how “lucky” I am that I had a family to tuck me in at night and people to care about me. He’s MAD that I threw the pendant that was so like the woman in my vision – the one that looked like me. And then Waryk fucking joins in the attack. How DARE they tell ME how I should react to my vision – that I should “open my mind” or some other bullshit naïve advice. They don’t fucking know me! They don’t know how many nights I went to sleep in some corner of a ruined building, sobbing silently with pain from Farl’s cruelty; tortured and burned or whipped or sliced open with a knife (and sometimes all of the above) and hoping against hope that I wouldn’t die from my open wounds and bleeding body like so many others had done from the dirty city. How many times in those first few years with Farl that I heard the agonized, dying screams of the youngest of the Streets – ones I had dared to try to help keep from starving. He made me watch as he tortured and killed them in front of me…in my name – because I had been kind. Because I had wanted to be like Blink and help the ones who could not help themselves. Because he wanted me to suffer. They died because of me! Before I learned that kindness only brings worse suffering. Their small suffering faces and agonized screams still haunt my dreams. None of them know how many nights I was running with Blink and still hoped…how many times I wished – like a fucking idiot – that I had parents or family that would come find me and take me home with them. That my life would be a bloody fairy tale and that I had a home and people who cared for me and protected me. Guess what? The people I belonged to were obviously either fucking weak and died or they didn’t care enough to come find me. There is no such thing as a bloody fucking hero and fairy tales never come true. You take care of yourself and what you need or you get left bleeding and broken by someone stronger or more cunning. You find yourself dead, waiting for a dream that is nothing but fanciful wishes built on lies. My Street days burned all my weak naïveté and innocence away.

Gods! They’re STILL going on about it! I don’t have to fucking explain myself to them – they don’t deserve it! I feel red creeping at the edges of my vision and I stand and whirl angrily, looking back long enough to glare at them and see Gareth look sadly in my direction. My eyes widen slightly, startling a little from that…I wasn’t expecting it…not from him. I … I … am not sure how I feel about it. At least it wasn’t pity! I’ve seen that look before and it makes me want to punch the other person. Pity is for condescending assholes who think they’re better than you. But Gareth’s eyes were sad, not pitying. I growl incoherently. I don’t understand ANY of this. Before I start flinging daggers at people, I whirl and march myself out the door and stalk angrily into the surrounding fields, blessedly bare of fucking annoying other people.

I walk along – my vision narrowed inward; blocking everything else out. The small orc-child comes and tries to get me to go back but I manage to convince her to head back without me. Something something cheetahs and gnomes are out there. What the hell is a cheetah? I don’t even care. I can take care of myself! I always have and I always will. It doesn’t even sound that dangerous…She gave me trouble for a minute about going back with her but I swore and did some stupid pinky promise thing and she was happy enough to go skipping back to the village. I don’t even remember what I said exactly; I just told her anything I could think of to get her to just go and leave me the fuck alone. I keep going, turning left and hoping to avoid the cheetahs or whatever, and continue angrily on my way.

Fuck! Cheetahs are fucking VICIOUS! I hadn’t even been looking where I was walking until one of the giant cat-things pounces out of seemingly thin air and lands directly in front of me, startling me out of my angry inner thoughts. Their claws and teeth look terribly sharp. I crouch in the grass, hoping to hide well enough for them to leave me alone but I can tell it’s doing no good. I am so close I can see the black lines running from the cat’s inner eye down to its mouth – like it’s crying dark tears. I see my death waiting in those golden yellow eyes and I start to resign myself to it. Maybe it’s better this way anyway. I am not fit to try and save anyone – let alone the world. I’ll just fuck it up and end up destroying it instead! That’s what’s happened every other time I’ve ever tried to help anyone. They’ll be fine without me; better I bet! The dragons said there were other potential chosen – I bet if I die another will rise and do a much better job of it all I start to close my eyes, waiting for a strike that will never come. As I watch Kaine bull-rushes the cheetahs, putting his own life on the line to save mine. I’d been so oblivious I hadn’t even noticed he was there! He must have followed me from the village! He looks angry! He swings at the cheetahs and I hold my breath, hoping that he can kill them or hurt them enough to scare them off. After a moment though, I realize the cheetahs are too strong. Kaine is hurt – badly! I can see him bleeding from the attacks from here. I pull out my crossbow, wanting to help. I know the village is too far away to get to for reinforcements but I may be able to intercede enough for Kaine to get away. He doesn’t need to die for my stupidity and obliviousness. I WON’T have another person’s death on my conscience; not if I can prevent it. Kaine yells at me to leave but I scream back at him, saying I won’t leave him alone to die! He screams angrily at me to run and he’ll be close behind. Hoping he knows what he’s doing, I turn and run…straight into Swizzle on the warforged. “RUN!!!” I scream at her. She tries playing a couple things on her ukulele. I’m not sure why, but it helps me feel a little better as all of us turn and bolt as fast as we can back to the village. By the end I’m panting and feel like all the breath has been burned from my lungs, but we make it! We make it to Rabble, who calms the animals, and the orc elders, who somehow send the cheetahs back to the grasslands. One of them heals Kaine but I can’t STAND the thought of all the looks on the party’s faces when they see me…know that I almost got myself and Kaine killed…

I go back to the tent we used the seeing water in, thinking I could sneak in while Gareth is sleeping and maybe Waryk is out and find my pendant. I don’t want it per se, but … ok fine. I fucking want it back! This day has sucked and the reminder of Lorne makes me feel better, even if it is a stupid elven pendant. Maybe I’ll just keep it in one of my pouches or pockets or something. I don’t know. But I don’t want anyone else to have it either. I walk in but, of course, fucking Waryk has the pendant and ASKS me if I want it back. OF COURSE I CAN’T TELL HIM I WANT IT. I glare at him and say “Of course not!!” as I turn around and stomp back out of the tent. I can’t TELL him I want it back. The look on his face made me want to punch him. I’m not admitting to him I want it back!! I … I … fuck. I don’t know anymore.

My pendant is gone; I’m never getting it back because I’m NEVER stooping to asking Waryk for it. I chalk it up to another piece of my life lost; it doesn’t matter. It was elven anyway. I don’t want it back! I try to convince myself it doesn’t matter; nothing matters. Only vengeance. Only watching Farl die and Aldritch burn! I just want to get away from everyone. I don’t want to run into the damn cheetahs again, though, so I find a small spot that looks secluded in the village, with no people by it. I stare straight ahead and try to push the emotions I feel down into the dark, silent box I keep stuffed in a hidden, deep corner of myself. I stuff them in and lock the box back up, like I’ve done so many times before. But this time, they won’t stay locked in. I can’t cry. I don’t care. I’m just here to do a job – nothing else matters! I sit heavily and when I do, it’s like the emotions I’ve been holding back my whole life come crashing into me like a careening boulder. I won’t fucking cry though- crying is for the weak and the dead or soon-to-be dead.

But, as much as I try to stave them off; to bury them back in the box I’ve hidden them in all these years, the tears come. And once they start I can’t turn them off. I cry so violently I feel my whole body begin to ache and throb with the pain of it – like someone came along and pummeled every square inch of skin and muscle I have. It hurts! Everything is a haze of pain as my body shakes violently with the intensity of my grief. I can’t catch my breath and I’m on the ground, frantically ripping off my mask and gulping desperately for air; curled into a tightened ball, weeping with everything I have; the sorrow and anguish overwhelming me; drowning me … I weep for Blink and Lorne, for all the children that I’ve watched suffer and die. I weep for Kaine and for Gareth and Waryk; for their brushes with death and the family they have lost. I weep for nearly causing Kaine’s death. I weep for all the times I never let myself do so; for the family I once had but will now never know; will never be accepted by if they even are still out there. In the raw and carving pain of true grief, I know that, in my heart of hearts, I would have chosen the happy life I had seen in my vision. Would have chosen love and light instead of the anger and hurt in my soul. The reminder of what could have been leaves me battered as I wonder how broken I truly am. Wonder at the parts of me that felt I deserved what Farl had done; had deserved the pain and sorrow for my betrayal of Blink; had wanted the pain to stave off and fill the empty cavern inside of myself; the emptiness that I never admitted was there. I know now why I had never truly stood up to him – had always stayed in spite of the torture and the death I saw so often running under him. Why I had never defected to another gang of Streets. Where do I go from here? My sole purpose is shattered; the one thing holding the splintered pieces of myself together and I find myself doubting the path. I weep until my tears run dry; and then I weep some more. I weep until my throat is hoarse and burning, until my body is trembling and shaking uncontrollably. I weep and keen, oblivious of anything else around me. I weep and the pain of it will be the death of me…

Eventually, the world turns dark as I slip into blessed oblivion; my body past the point of exhaustion and unable to even manage the trance-like sleep I usually enjoy. I fall into deep unconsciousness as my body tries to right itself once more.

…and in that moment, when she is truly and deeply asleep, Lunara’s anger and pain melt away and her face smooths softly, showing the child inside; the one the world never gets to see…

From Lunara to her family…

Entering the Grasslands
in which we meet some friendly orcs

We have made it to the grasslands! Gareth is still passed out and being carried on a litter by Kaine but he doesn’t seem in immediate danger anymore. There is grass waving as far as the eye can see – more grass than I even thought possible! The party ventures further into the grasslands in search of the next portal on our map. We don’t get very far in, though, when a couple of the other party members spot a white flag waving a little ways away from us. It turns out to be an orc child named Alog who leads us to a small orc village named Shalefist, where we are met by a group of orc elders smiling and dressed in odd clothing. They seem friendly enough and none of the rest of the group act too nervous so I, trying to make more of an effort to be part of the group, don’t pull out any weapons either. I just wait patiently to see how events will unfold.

The orcs, which I realize with a start a few moments later, are also from the draconic vision. They are friendly and inform us that they also were given a vision that we would come. They even offer to show us where the portal near here lies exactly! It will make our task easier and I am happy that they are willing to lead the way. They offer us seeing water, which most of the others seem excited for. I am not so sure. But I did make a promise to myself that I would make more of an effort. And Gareth almost died to finish this task we have been given. If this seeing water will help us to be able to find the portals quicker and more accurately, then it is worth a little risk. It just better not show anything else besides portal-related things. The orc elders said it usually didn’t delve into the past. The less everyone else in the party knows about me the better – past or future. The truth would only drive them further away; make them shun me as almost all the others did in Aldritch. It would make it difficult to work together to destroy the portals. If I have my way, they never need know of my past as a Street or my plans to destroy Aldritch and Farl. They definitely never need know the different scenarios in my head for enacting sweet, bloody revenge. So long as I get to be the one to see Farl’s face as the light of life slowly and painfully leaves his eyes by my hand I don’t care the price. Damn him for all he did and damn Aldritch for letting it happen – even if it means damning myself in the process. I’ve lived far longer than most Streets already; what else is there to look forward to beyond what I have already seen?

I glance over and my eyes widen slightly as a strange thrill of relief sucker-punches me in the gut when I see Gareth finally sitting up. I grit my teeth and narrow my gaze angrily. I may have resolved to help more with the portals and eat with everyone sometimes but damn it I will not get attached! I don’t want to care – I won’t do it! Why should any of them care what happens to me beyond making sure we can all close the portals? And if they don’t care why should I?? Why should I care so much what happens to him; to any of them?? I’m only glad he’s here because it means we have a strong ally back in play that will help us complete our task. I won’t be made weak because I care; because I let someone in. I won’t pour my soul into forging friendships and family bonds that will only die in raging flames. I … I …won’t let anyone near enough to hurt me anymore…

A Lot to Think About which Gareth nearly dies

So much has happened…

We are no longer seeking the portals merely to find them – we are to destroy them, even the dragon’s main portal. Never again will I dismiss any creature as a child’s tale or a myth. I have seen too much – too many impossibilities to disbelieve any longer. I always thought fairies were made up but we have met one! She stepped through our fire and gave us a map of the 16 existing portals, telling us we needed to shut them down if we wanted to ensure that the worlds survived. That’s right – worlds! Apparently there is such a thing called planes – which were all linked in the first age. Now, because of the portals and the prophecy, all the planes are in danger. We need to close them to keep them from collapsing and taking the world with them. Sorcha, the fire fairy, gave us the draconic incantation that must be used to close them.

I and the rest of the party find ourselves on the outskirts of a small village. Hoping to resupply, we venture in. I see a woman elf, which sets me in a foul mood. At least she’s leaving for now. We are directed to one of the larger buildings, which holds a man named Edwyn. He tells us to leave, which I am more than happy to do, but Kaine and Waryk seem intent on staying. Edwyn becomes angry and it is revealed that he has one of the dragon-marks. Terribly strong, he starts to laugh maniacally as we run from him. Gareth takes a battle-ready stance and I swear profusely as it dawns on me that he means to stay and fight. Tongues of flame are already licking the battlefield where we have just fled and it only appears to be getting stronger. With a look of exertion on his face, Gareth raises a massive magical shield and keeps the flames at bay. I can’t leave him. This is what happened to Blink – to Lorne. I abandoned them to their death. I can’t do it again. I won’t leave someone to their fate – especially not someone I admire and who has helped us so much. I turn around, ready to fight with Gareth, even to the death, but Rabble’s words shake my resolve and I turn towards him to begin running. When I see Kaine picking Gareth up and taking him with us as we go, I no longer feel any compunction to stay and fight this clearly impossible fight. Gareth falls unconscious as we run to fight another day; run for our very lives. Slowly, the laughter fades and we are safe once more.

My head and heart are jumbled and I feel so very confused. I thought I knew what I wanted, what my purpose was. I knew that I wanted no friends, no strings to tie me down and leave me weak. My sole purpose was to amass enough wealth and power to destroy Aldritch and make sure Farl went down with it. Vengeance would be mine – regardless of who went with it, even myself. Yet the people I travel with have touched me in ways I didn’t think possible anymore. I find myself caring what happens to them, wanting them to survive, even thrive. Gareth very nearly died today – if it hadn’t been for Kaine carrying him to safety and Rabble healing him, he would have. And it was all to protect us – he was willing to die so that Waryk and the rest of us might live and fight another day; close the portals. No one would have done that for me on the streets of Aldritch.

I can barely even look at Waryk. The tears falling down his face and the occasionally unguarded expressions that hit too uncomfortably close to how I wish I could have expressed myself the day Blink died. I feel myself in his shoes and wonder how far I would go to protect family if I had it. Yet he, too, was willing to sacrifice so much in order to ensure that we survived and completed the task the elder dragons have assigned us. I am awed by such strength of character in one I thought weak and unworthy of much notice.

I am humbled and I feel I have not been giving the people I travel with a fair chance. I judge too harshly and too swift. So blinded by the loss of Lorne that I couldn’t see the good in what was right in front of me. From now on I vow to myself to make more of an effort. If Waryk and Gareth are what family is, then I do regret my lack of family. If there was another who looked out and cared for me as those two care for each other, I would be richer than if I possessed all the gold and jewels in the world. And if Kaine and how he treats those around him are what friendship is, then I have misjudged yet again. He cares for others even to his own detriment; cares beyond my understanding. Saves those he fought or disagreed with even a mere day or two before. On the street, Gareth would have been killed the moment he lost consciousness. Here the whole group rallied to help, not harm him…There is more to Kaine – to everyone – than I ever realized. I have a lot to think about for the next while…

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.


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