Stoneguard

When Dungeons and Dragons becomes literal
Don't piss off something that can breathe fire.

Stoneguard 5
In the Bawdy Lyricorn:
Kai asks Lavone about the weapons on the giant wall of death, paying particular attention to the Empirical weapons used to (unbeknownst to him) slay her father. She threatens his life and informs him that she is only putting up with him by the queen’s order.
Kai tells her off and storms off to his room.
I have a seat at the bar and order a pint, see Lavone is visibly shaken, possibly fearful and saddened as well.
Runi and I meander about the pub and decide to check out the games, I play a few rounds of bones and beads, win back my money and a bit more. Kai re-enters the room. Despite being a Bellvar with the ability to punch through a man’s face, he totally sucks at darts.
Day two – we’re approached by a cheerful looking woman in piecemeal armor, who requests that we reopen the supply chains between the north and here so she may work on her ironyarmor again. She offers to sell us her dragon mail for 5300 gold. Her name is Khara, and I agree to TRY to assist. Anything for a fellow follower of the magical arts.
We receive our summons to the castle and Kai is given his task – take a basket to the northern outpost, and give it to the head officer there. Do not lose, jostle, or expose the contents of the basket to daylight. We are given a wagon and supplies for our journey.
We reach the Fluffy Lamb at the end of day one, decide to stay over. The place bears a musky smell, somewhat old inside and quite dim. After a rather frostly welcome and ominous interaction, we opt to go up the road about half an hour and make camp.
Raccoons broke into our food supply and began gnawing on the straps securing the basket. Kai wakes up to assist. He peeks under the lid of the basket to see a standard litter but nothing of significance.
We run through some more difficult roads the next day but do well overall.
Fort Starmark: Halfway through the next day when we make it to the outpost. We introduce ourselves and show our papers and after a bit of debate amongst the guards are shown inside. Kai asks for an audience with the head officer.
We deliver the basket and find it contains a rainbow dove. I inquire about the trade routes and he claims it is due to fear of the swamp. We agree to clear out the swamp in exchange for supplies and accommodations for the night.
They are excited to have a priestess from Erosana in the fort for the evening. Reports about the swamp threat vary but do have points of consistency.
We make merry for the evening and Runi performs some fireworks. The guards welcome the excitement and we are grateful for some fun along our quest.
The next day we set out to the spot of the first report. We note some rather deep grooves in the mud indicating a creature of some size. I attempt to rouse it by throwing a rock into the pond. Note to self – work on throwing skills. I doubt I could hit the broad side of a barn.
We defer to Nimbus and he directs us further into the swamp. We then hear draconic language state “leave”. We attempt to parlay with the dragon and he tells us he could use servants. We state we’ll consider but that he would have to come forth to show himself to discuss this in person.
“Kneel”
Runi kneels and I follow suit. A medium/small black dragon pads out.
“There’s your servant” Runi states and gestures at Kai. “Let’s Go” he proclaims and proceeds to begin walking away. I follow.
Runi casts mage armor and enlarge person on the Kai’s snake mount and in draconic calls out to the dragon “My people have never trusted your kind.”

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A most important task
To be or not to be, that is the question

Stoneguard 04/21/13

We were brought down into the dungeon for protection because the castle was on lockdown. We’re escorted back upstairs after a time, and back to the audience chamber before the throne room. The male guards stand on either side of the room, waiting.
The queen, chamberlain, grey green cat (a swamp cat) and the elite guard finally join us. Queen has had swamp cat (as a personal protectorate) for about 3 years and she can communicate with it, likely through magic.
There is a map in the middle of a table, decorated with small markers and flags. Kai appears to recognize these and sits at the table.
Xanri comes in, looks at Kai, states “I don’t trust you. We should have that out now. I will not leave you unwatched.”
Kai defends himself, stating there are not many uprisings in the Empire, cites disappearances of others that have stood against the empire.
Xanri offers Kai partial asylum. He states that he had previously been offered full citizenship. She counters with full protections of citizenship but withholds full benefits until he has proved himself.
Discourse about how he treats me differently than he would have 6 months ago, the kiss, etc.
He claims that his belief is that the empire intends to take over stoneguard but keep her in power as an empress of sorts.
Xanri asks him to deliver a package to the northern outpost.
Shira = swampcat
Kai accepts. Barters for new equipment. He’ll be put up at the bawdy lyricorn.
She asks me why I was traveling with him and if I’d like to continue to do so, and states that I will be compensated accordingly should I do so.
Xanri requests an audience with me and leads me with two elite guards back to the dungeon side room
This is the treasure room of the castle
The imperial is certain to be a target. He will be a danger to me. Assuming Shivonae requests that I continue in his presence, you will be compensated. She pulls out a supersheer, fine, almost invisible – it is one of the treasures that is useless to her people. Looks like gauzy cloth. Looks appropriate for me. It was found in a ruins in the NE. A former diety had used it as vestments, very difficult to damage. Some type of armor. Interacts poorly with all but the most sheer of clothing. She offers it to me.
She asks that I give her regards to Shivonae and offers me lodgings should I need them.
She asks me to observe him. Spy both on and for him. She asks about Runi, and we agree that he ought to the north as well. She apologized for her absentmindedness and states that “it is not every day that ones’ lover attacks them”. She retires to her chambers.

Shivonae is waiting for me in my chambers. She had word from the palace. Confirms imperial presence. I can sense rage but she doesn’t show it. Last time I saw rage was the death of Saithe (he was a founder of the city). It’s said that the woman running the bawdy lyricorn is her daughter. Saithe was killed by imperials.
She asks me if he is the one I was sent for or if he needs to die. If he proves himself to be a mere imperial then swallow this dram of poison and allow him to have whatever he wants and it shall be done.
If he proves himself to be typical of his kingdom and Xanri wishes him to remain whole then see that he makes his way to me.
She offers me a better weapon and funding for my journey. Gives me scorpion whip and 20 gp.
Runi is in the Dragon’s Wake, a tavern near the entrance of the city. Eating roasted rainbow dove with veg and leek and dog’s rib (mushroom) soup, with ale. I ask him where he’s from, he responds by asking me if I am familiar with the great ice trace. Draws it out.
He needs an audience with the queen.
I discuss the task to which I have been appointed and ask him if he would accompany me. In return I promise him an audience with her majesty. We then opt to move on to the Bawdy Lyricorn to meet with Kai.
There, Kai discourses with the waiter about the wall of weapons, and asks me for an introduction to Lavode.

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And the Plot Thickens
All is not as it seems in the city of Stoneguard

So to the manor house we went, off to meet the lord of the village. While we were there we were thanked for our assistance and asked if any of us were from Teaton. When we responded no, we were told there was a nobleman that wished to speak with us.

We were escorted upstairs and introduced to Arturo, a minor noble sent by the queen of Stoneguard. He requested that we help him to persuade the people of Willowvine to form an allegiance with Stoneguard, as the threats from Teaton and elsewhere were growing stronger. We agreed, but were unable to persuade the lord of the village as they had tremendous trade with Teaton in spirituous liquors and would be unable to survive without the trade agreement.

The three of us decided to go on to Stoneguard to see what information we might find there. Upon reaching the city we went our separate ways, and I later decided to join Kai as he had requested an audience with the queen.

We were greeted and escorted into the royal chamber where queen Xanri was seated, attended by her confidant and savior Ambrose.

Kai pointed out to the queen that he was not the only ninja in the room and Ambrose disappeared.

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Yes, I would like to mount your bearded serpent
Paybacks are a dish best served cold. And rainy. And bloody.

I had retired to my room at the tavern to rest till evening, although the air was thick with anticipation of the adventure to come. Upon hearing my companions’ voices outside the tavern just prior to twilight, I hopped out of bed and popped out to join them. Kai and Runi had found a peasant woman to care for the child and we were greeted by the two guards and two levies that were to accompany us on our expedition. One of levies was a tracker which should prove useful in the dark forest. We ventured to the edge of the village and prepared to depart in the direction indicated by the barbarian earlier that afternoon.

Once we reached the edge of the village Kai called out for his mount. Dusk was well upon us and the dreary drizzle was still heavy overhead when we heard it, something like a heavy, rumbling slither, not hoofbeats or any sound with which I was familiar. Then we saw it – A GIANT SNAKE. I had heard of such creatures but seeing one in the scales was quite another matter. Despite its formidable appearance it seemed quite tame to Kai as he mounted up and offered a seat to Runi and me. Runi declined, but as I am somewhat slight of stature and always amused by other unique, odd creatures (as I am certainly less than standard issue myself) I eagerly accepted and swung up behind him.

Yes, yes I would like to mount your bearded serpent. Thank you.

We strode off (slithered off?) into the woods as the night rose, venturing forth with eyes and ears open. The dim light normally doesn’t bother me, but with the nearly moonless night and chill, misty air even my half-elvish senses couldn’t give me an advantage. Suddenly, both Kai and the tracker noticed something at a distance. The tracker fired an arrow into a tree, Kai ordered me to hold on and ordered the snake up the tree, with us still aboard. I then noticed the barbaric scout – Kai jumped from the snake and attempted to knock a man out of the tree, missed but was able to punch him out shortly thereafter. The man fell to the ground, it was clear his ribs were shattered and his organs punctured. He clearly did not have long to live.
Runi used a type of laying on of hands to stabilize him and began a crude interrogation, as the man was of one of the barbaric clans and clannish language is rather broken and simple to an outsiders’ ear. Kai and I returned to the forest floor in time to ascertain that the raid party had made camp a short ways away on a farm. Runi then ordered the guards to run him through and we carried on towards the enemy camp.

As we reached the edge of the clearing it was obvious that this was the farm to which he had referred. Despite the darkness and gloomy weather, I could ascertain that there were several of the barbarian clansmen in the fields, and a large building in the center – a small, single story outbuilding connected by a breezeway to the larger building, with the roof slanting to a second story towards the back. The field appeared to have recently been wooded; it was littered with stumps and mud from the logs being dragged away. There appeared to be a large puddle, almost the size of a small pond off to the right a bit. No cover, no barricades – nothing but a battlefield waiting to happen.

Runi summoned his… monster thing and flanked around to the left. Kai left his serpent behind and scouted around to the right, coming up behind the big, muddy puddle. I opted to hop up to a low branch of the tree to better scout the surroundings, knowing far better than to go running out into battle with my slight frame and rather sparse armaments. Unfortunately, the village guards hadn’t quite thought things out as well.

Rather than following our lead and assessing the situation, the village guards and levies opted to simply march out into the soon-to-be battlefield, weapons raised and ready for action. In moments the entire field was awash with blood – Kai called his snake over, its formidable stance frightening a man away. I hopped down from my lookout and grabbed my whip, but the wet leather was slippery and against the closest barbarian’s slimy armor I was barely able to connect.
I could detect skirmishes on both sides of me, but while distracted I took a substantial blow to the shoulder from the tracker in our party. The barbarian turned to me to attack, and in my rage I threw him to the ground and whipped him unconscious. Bruised, bleeding, and heaving with anger, as Kai was looting bodies and Runi and his pet made their way toward the building with the remaining guards I looped around the back, searching for additional sentries or a back way into the house.

I found nothing of interest and met up with the party at the far end of the breezeway. Runi’s pet, I believe I heard him call it Nimbus, was violently tearing at the door. I kept my eyes on the field and let them do their work, listening as well as I could to the exchange of words with the baddies inside.

“Leave or we kill them” a cronish female voice called out.

“Whom?” inquired Runi.

“The prisoners!” she cackled.

Well, that puts a damper on things. It is much more difficult to gamble when it is not merely your own life on the line, but those of innocent others. Although neither I nor my new companions had any ties to the village, the guards of Willowvine would certainly care if we endangered their brethren, not to mention the tracker had already lost his life in battle and one of the guards was severely wounded already. I weighed the consequences in my mind, debating our next action when Runi made the decision for us:

“Oh well”

I stole a glance through the now gaping hole in the doorway and saw an old witch with a huge ruby colored spider on her left shoulder – she muttered an incantation and a swarm of spiders spewed forth from her mouth, bursting through the doorway and attacking Nimbus, who seemed not to even notice. The crone then cast an obscuring mist, one through which even my elvish eyes couldn’t cut. I summoned a dire rat into the room, but with my weak magic it was only able to snap up a few spiders and nip at one of the barbarians before vanishing.

CRASH! Nimbus was through the door. Before anyone could even react Runi cast ‘Enlarge’ on the creature, its formidable appearance now sheerly terrifying. It tore through the room bashing away and whatnot, the guard following after; leaving the remaining Levy, Runi, and me in the breezeway. Despite my overwhelming desire to jump into the action, blood was still streaming from the slice missing from my shoulder, staining my hair and clothes crimson with blood. I healed the guard and held my ground outside the room.

As Runi rushed in, I opted to stay behind the levy and slash my whip at anyone within its reach, my urge to kill rising but my sense of self-preservation prevailing. The guard took such a blow I was unable to heal him; death came to him quickly. The levy had taken some blows and I was able to heal him up one more time, preserving him for another round or so before the blows overwhelmed him.

The first opponent to show himself was one of the barbarians, whom I lashed through the doorway with such force I could hear the audible snap of his neck before his body slumped to the floor. The pathway seemed rather clear and I stepped into the room to see Runi’s pet heaving over the bloody stumps of what I presumed to be the bodies of fallen barbarians and a few other men that seemed to be in league with them; as well as Runi running about on the loft. I bound a barbarian left half alive and began to interrogate him as Runi went to the back to release the villagers they’d kidnapped.

The interrogation revealed that the witch had vanished off to somewhere unknown, the storeroom was filled with spoils of their raids, and that they’d been working with the witch for some time; although they were unsure of where she was from or what her motivations might be. The barbarians themselves were one of the slaver clans and the prisoners were to be sold into the slave trade.

I left the barbarian bound and went to inspect the storeroom across the breezeway. A couple of pigs, some sundry items, basic wares for the farm mostly. I did pocket some gold I found in there, but serpent mount or no I was in no mood to go dragging a bunch of goods back to the village. It was all for the best, as Runi found the farm owners in the other room, and I’m sure after their ordeal they would be happy to benefit from some of the plundered goods.

Runi, Kai, the serpent, and I all ventured back to camp (Runi dismissed his pet off to the world from whence it came) and let the six villagers find their own way back. Our work here was done.

We returned to the village to much rejoicing, as among the villagers we had released was the tavern keeper’s daughter in law. We were told that the 5 made it back safe, and that we had an invitation waiting for us to greet the village magistrate at the manor. Little did we know what adventures would be awaiting us there…

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The Decisions we make
The more I have been in this country the deeper my thoughts of questioning the Empire I have lived in and grown to know in every fiber of my being have grown. What I once have dared to even give just a fragment of speculation has blown into full on doubt and fear. Fear that my home. My country is as evil as one would believe the rumors to be, before they are crushed under the infinite weight of the Emperors boot heel and are scattered to the winds.

And here is where I find myself. In this dreary village amongst the enemy of my now enemy who I once called kin. But let me start from the beginning.

After my final disgust with the Empire I choose to throw away my advancement amongst the ranks of my brethren to save this child, this abomination. Why I can not say. Maybe it will be revealed to me in time. Maybe not. I was however unfortunately unable to save her mother. I can only hope if the child grows to know me will forgive me for this as well as my hand in her fathers demise. On the road for nearly a week after barely escaping my former masters I find my self in this village called Willowvane. Having run out of food for the little one as well as myself I enter a Tavern to escape the rainfall that has started just a little while ago. I have no means of barter as well as coin to procure any sustenance for the halfbreed child. I can only take comfort in the here and now sheltered from the elements. My thoughts wander to unsavory means of how I might come to acquire means to feed the little one. She is sleeping. And for this I am grateful. I do not wish to cause anymore notice to us as my appearance may already have done. To rapped up in my thoughts I did not notice the halfbreed female enter and take a seat in the corner adjacent from my own. Once giving her a look over I was taking aback from her appearance. She was very attractive,if one is into that sort of thing mixing with the lesser races. Thinking this I have come to the conclusion that shaking the doctrine of the Empire will take longer then I thought it would. I hold the child rocking her slowly as I make a decision. But as I do so ruff looking men in the middle of the room seem to be scuffling over something. There actions seem to be faint. I however I care little of this countries cultures and at the moment I have my own concerns to tend to. I get up and walk over and as I do so a tall man seems to be making his way over from the bar to the others. I break my gaze as I am now in front of the green haired female. This close up I notice she has a tail! Regaining my composure I engage with her asking if she by chance knows of any of her kin that may be in the area that I may speak with. She asks why and I show her unveiling the child to be of her own kind. She reacts not with surprise but curiosity. She tells me however that she has no dealings with any of the elf kin pure or otherwise in this area. I sit, my hopes dashed somewhat as I speak with her. I try to elude her questions as best I can as she is gracious enough to pay for a meal for me and the child. As we talk and eat the man that seemed to settle the others down leaves after talking with the barkeep. He comes back a little while later with a sack of plants or maybe vegetables of some kind? I don’t know, but it seems he is able to purchase a room with this and enters the back. The men in his absence begin to get unruly once more. My new friend if you wish to call her that and I attempt to defuse the situation. But not as soon as we do so the guards are called and shortly after they arrive. The tall man just entering the room moments before pulls me and Nymthirial the halfbreed to the corner and tells us to go to room 13. I do so fearing for the child’s safety and find the halfbreed female behind me. I make sure she is safe and surprisingly she is still asleep. After a moment discussing our course of action, Nymthirial and I go back to the bar room. It is crowded and I make my way to sit perched on a bar stool to gain a better vantage point. Nymthirial trips as she enters the room and knocks me down as she falls to the grown. My wounds must have been more then I had gathered them to be for I was unable to dodge out the way as I to fell, right onto her. After gaining our footing I notice a beast of some sort ripping and clawing at the front entrance. It seems to be trying to destroy it. I glance back and notice Nymthirial is gone as well as the barkeep and his little helper. I turn my attention onto the guards who seem to be incompetent and unable to take control of the situation. I decide to step in and help them out when the door burst and the beast darts off into the village. The tall man makes his way out as well. I continue to engage with the ruffians. I did not mean to use so much force but after a little bit of tussling I use Kissing the rock and kill one of the three unruly men by caving in his face with one blow. This stops the fighting immediately and all eyes are on me. The others submit to the guards and after some diplomacy the guards let me go. I check the body for valuables seeing he will need them no longer and make my way out the door. I find other bodies and do the same to them when I see the the tall man, Nymthirial, and the beast emerge out of the rainy mist a little ways ahead. We enter the tavern once more and the tall man watches as the guards interrogate the two remaining men. The tall man lends his help and they are able to find that these men where hired to cause a distraction for a band of barbarians to raid the village unhindered. I have no interests in this lands brigands and thieves. So when the tall man who by this time has told us we can call him Runi says he will help the guards in 20 minutes when the guards say they will assemble a posse to go and take care of this problem, I graciously decline. Nymthirial offers a deal to heal me of my wound’s and will help with finding a suitable family for the halfbreed child after we have dealt with the Thieving barbarians. I think about it and decide it is my best option at the moment and I agree with her taking the deal. What strange bed fellows I find myself with. Maybe Our previous reports are incorrect about the level of magic in this country. I seem to have found two spell casters of some sort without even looking for them. Time will tell if they are friend or become my foes. Time, the one thing I do not have much of when I know that every second spending out of the safety of the only place with a chance to stand against the Empire is so far away. They are coming. They will always be coming….
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A Dreary Day in Willowvane
Two men and a baby

It was another dreary day in the village of Willowvane. I’d come to see the festival, though the weather had kept many travelers at bay and the merchants hadn’t even bothered displaying their wares for the day. Still, I was out and about making my rounds when he caught my eye – a man of odd dress, clearly injured, and carrying what appeared to be a baby; rushing through the village. He sought solace from the drizzle in the tavern, and I followed. It appeared my trip may have been worthwhile after all.

I sauntered in behind him and found myself a spot in the corner, attempting to appear as inconspicuous as possible, which I’ve found can be rather difficult for me considering my… physical attributes. I note that despite his apparent exhaustion, injuries, and child the man appears to be penniless. I am debating how to use this to my advantage when a small scuffle appears to break out in the far corner of the room.

A man of some build, also of foreign dress, marches over to them and appears to quell their skirmish with a piece of gold, which is doubly odd as he appeared to have been bartering with the tavern keeper for meal and board with potatoes. My attention is drawn elsewhere though, as I glance up to see that the man with the baby has come over to greet me.

I order up some gruel so my new companion and his child may eat, and am able to ascertain that his name is Kai, he found the abandoned child while passing through a nearby raided town, and that the child is in fact half-elf, like myself. He is disappointed that I am unconnected to the nearby elven tribes and am unable to find the child a home. His disappointment is short lived, however; as the men in the corner have begun to grow quite rowdy again.

Seeing as the situation seemed to be escalating quickly my Kai and I jumped up to intervene – we had barely begun to diffuse the situation when the village guards were called. The tall man with shrouded face pulled the two of us back to the corner in order to avoid drawing the attention of the guards. After but a moment he ordered us to room 13, which I assume was his. Despite having my own room and being rather interested in the scene playing out in the corner, the baby needed protection and the injured man was my key person of interest. I followed him to the room where we were able to secure the child in the basin and return to the tavern.
Despite a less than graceful entrance to the room I was able to scurry into the kitchen with the tavern keeper and his son. From there, I was able to watch the fight ensue when I noticed a creature in the room – not attacking anyone, but attacking the door from the inside, as if trying to break out. It made quick work of the door and ran off into the mist, and the tall man quickly strode out behind it. As Kai and the guards seemed to be handling the bar brawl, I opted to take out after them.

As there was no rear exit I was forced to sneak out past the fight and was greeted by a mauled corpse of one of the local barbarians. I could still see the swish of the foreign traveler’s cloak and hear the footfalls of the beast he seemed to be following and pursued them while keeping my distance. From what I gathered, it appeared to be under his control as he was attempting to interrogate additional barbarians he encountered. I was unable to catch the full conversation, but I gathered that the barbarians had some great leader which had given the order to raid the village.

The tall man then turned his attention to me, asking if I had knowledge of the origins of the men he had encountered. I informed them they were a local barbarian tribe, linked to a series of raids on local villages. We then went back to the tavern, encountering Kai looting the bodies along the way. We opted to inform the local authorities of our discovery and further interrogate the men in the bar, as they seemed to be in cahoots with the barbarian tribe. We were informed that they were bribed to start the fight in order to occupy the guards, and that they came from Teaton.

As for my new companions and me, the tall man informed us his name was Runi and that he would be joining the party going out that evening to find the barbarian tribe and get to the bottom of this. I agreed and bribed Kai into joining us in exchange for healing and my agreement to assist him in finding a home for the child upon our completion.

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Lessons to be learned
So it was...

“Why is there so much to go over?” The young ruler-to-be whined.

“Simple Master Durns, if you are to rule effectively, you must understand the nature of events that have come before in the area where you rule.” The historian used formal terms, but smiled lightly and spoke in a familiar tone.

“A bunch of dead people did a lot of things to build up a Kingdom. They paid attention to the advice that was bolstered by a series of visions and put a few things in place. Then they died anyway.” The boy skewed his face. “So what?”

“That advice kept the royal bloodline alive until the time of restoration.” Patience never wavered in the voice of the old man. “If they had ignored that advice, the line would be broken and the city would never have been restored.”

“So? It didn’t have the same name, rules or any support. It might as well have been a new city entirely.”

“You will understand why bloodline matters when you get older. The city couldn’t have been restored at all otherwise and as we have already discussed, that might have left the entire area in a savage state.” The old man skimmed over a few books and scrolls, finding what he is looking for and opening up to a marked page. “We have already discussed the first twenty years of the city of Stoneguard, as well as the period of time leading up to the 23 year when the assassination attempt was made on the queen.”

The boy rolled his eyes and nodded. “Yep.”

“Now is time to discuss the events that came about after that attack and subsequent discovery of the existence of the Jerridian Empire.” The historian lifted a book titled: The Vixen Priestess, the Passderian and the Imperial Traitor. “With Saithe dead, the birth of the centaur race, and the changes in a number of key positions within the city, a chain of events led to a new and unexpected set of complications. No one, even those who could look forward into the future, could predict just how things would change in so short a period of time.”

As the historian spoke, the young royal studied a number of the papers on the table, fixing on a portrait of the historical figures tied to the current lesson and his attention suddenly perked on seeing the half-elven woman dressed in temple garb for the Goddess Erosana. For once, he was all ears… and eyes..

“We have many letters, journals and accounts from this period of time.” The historian opened the book and began to read off the first bookmarked passage…

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