Coldfire's Reign

Goblins!

The road south has proven quiet…for the most part. Emeric seems to be in better spirits since our departure from the town of Keep. Another altercation took place, just as the others have on our sojourn towards The Citadel. A man named Pek, one of the caravan wagon drivers, took exception to my presence and wasn’t pleased when he found his preparations were in vain. Events proved beyond anyone’s control as the guards meant to accompany us on our journey instead were dispatched to rein in the attacks of a well-known bandit group in the area. The most I was able to determine is that they hide their identities behind white masks. Even as those involved described the incident, it didn’t take long before the name Frostborn found itself bandied about.

With such actions defining those cursed by the touch of Thrym, or as so many truly believe, it’s hard to fault the views of a man like Pek. All I can be, all I can do, is be true to my word and to myself. It’s the only thing I can hold onto in these times, as the winter bite pushes further south each year. Maybe one day people might know me for who I am, give me the chance to prove that I am simply as they are, an Anari just trying to find a place in this world and struggling to understand the forces which have blessed me with these strange abilities. Each day Emeric patiently explains to me how I might manipulate these gifts and how to apply my arts. I’m far from being as skilled as he is, able to channel the flow of energies around those he wishes to leave unscathed. My brother, despite his protests to the contrary, is a truly patient man. I’m lucky to be at his side and glad he invited me along on this endeavor.

I have to wonder what kind of reception we might find on the other side of the world, past the mountain wall blocking our path. Will people be different? Do Frostborn even exist there? Perhaps it won’t be as bad as the times in Myre. I’m heartened by the actions of some of my caravan companions. Though they know me not and the fight is surely not their own, they have shown compassion and true hearts. I know that Emeric is grateful, just as I am, that they would stand up for me. It was unexpected, but they have my sincere gratitude and heartfelt thanks.

We are 9 days into our journey at this point and I find the brief conversations I’ve had with the Elf, Thuringil, enlightening. I must remember to stop staring though! This must be what it’s like when someone meets me for the first time. Much like Kollsvein, actually. I find his concept of hospitality refreshing. Though this is his first commissioned patrol, I shall do what I can to make certain that it succeeds. The merchant, Malik, is quite an amusing one. I can’t help but laugh at the interactions between him and Krylinn, a very beautiful and talented singer. I wasn’t aware that Sisters of Mercy were so skilled in other ways. While it causes Thuringil no amount of annoyance, the three seem so comfortable together that had I not known they just met I would have assumed they were long time friends.

The dwarves who joined our caravan late have yet to try and speak to any of us. Dwarves! I’ve heard of them but never expected to actually see one, let alone be accompanied by a Lord! They seem to keep to themselves, but Kryllin might be wearing them down. They certainly seem to have taken a liking to her. Maybe she could share some stories of theirs.

Goblins!

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Synopsis, June 7
Sowanmonan, 2nd Waescdaeg

In the town of Keep, in the Egg and Spoon Tavern, a bar fight prompts quick comradeship for a few of its patrons: Emeric, the red-robed mage and his brother Griven, the Frostborn. The elf Thuringil, in the garb of a Grey Legionnaire, and his beautiful young charge Krylinn, dressed in the robes of the Sisters of Mercy. The richly-garbed merchant Malik, and the new-armored, massive and still growing Kollsvein, called the Bear. During the bar fight, Emeric burns Pek the Wagoner to death using fearsome fire magic.

Impressed and hoping to get a good deal, a caravaner in town, Ulfwald Deep-Pockets hires the combatants to guard his caravan to Watchgap Fort. Before they can get out of town, a dwarven Lord and his four men at arms join the caravan.

After 9 hard, tedious, chilly days on the road, the caravan is beset by Goblins. One wagoner is killed and the contents of one wagon mostly ruined.

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Synopsis, June 14
Sowanmonan, 3rd Milcdaeg

The caravaners recover from a goblin attack, bury their dead, and account for lost supplies.

Krylinn, badly wounded in the fray, berates her erstwhile protector Thuringil for not doing his job, leading to a discussion of mortality and the value of living. Malik and briefly Emeric argue about murder, remorse, and self-defense. The mysterious dwarven lord and his silent guards begin to warm to the others. Krylinn promises to help Kollsvein control his horse in return for help learning to fight.

After a number of days, the caravan reaches a river of spring runoff, with the usual ferry absent for the night. A caravan of diminutive and colorful Engro wagons is nearby, the Engro themselves playing horseshoes while waiting for supper.

Malik, Emeric, Krylinn, and Griven stay in camp, playing horseshoes and getting to know the Engro, while Kollsvein and Thuringil take to the woods in search of game to add to the Engro stew-pot.

The hunt proves dangerous, but wildly successful, as the elf and the hulking man-boy take down a deer the size of a moose.

But, as he is retrieving an arrow from beside a nearby spring, Thuringil is surprised by a pair of long, beastly arms reaching up from the pool. Before he can react, they grab him with clawed fingers and pull him into the chilly water.

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Racial Musings

Thankfully we have arrived at a river crossing this past evening and while it appears that the ferry has stopped running for the evening, it presents me with another chance to meet a new people that I have only heard tales of! Who knew that in only a few weeks of leaving Myre I would have encountered not only Elves and Dwarves, but also Goblins and Engro!

This trip continues to challenge my perceptions of the folk we take for granted. It’s very easy to see how certain preconceptions can be wrong, while others hold more true. Do they hold true though, because it’s expected of them or simply because it’s the nature of the person? This past evening a large group of goblins set upon us. We were vastly outnumbered but thru the heroic actions of the caravan folk, the dwarves and our new found friends, Emeric and I were able to make it thru relatively unscathed. I digress for a moment, though, and must say that Emeric’s ability to weave the elemental forces around those in the magic’s path is simply amazing. I must further try to unravel the mysteries of that ability, but everything seems much more of a force to me. A surge of power drawn from without and I am only a rod it channels thru. It’s like the energy is a rapid, rather than a river, but I know Emeric would say, “Both have a shore and hidden rocks. It’s learning to adjust the flow and maneuver the rocks that is the secret.”

Back to the matter at hand, I have to wonder do the Goblins attack because of some malicious need to harm that in their way? Or is it something simpler? The cold still reaches south and the nights grow bitterly cold, as I have noticed from the steaming breath of my companions. Perhaps the Goblins simply fight to survive. Perhaps they are simply hungry but know that they will be fired upon first rather than welcomed to break bread. I am too unlearned in this respect, and even I found myself caught up in the need to survive. Rather than stop fighting to reason with the charging band, my mind instantly worked towards protecting my brother. Even when only one remained nearby, I found myself enjoying the wintry power flowing thru me and sent a final roiling ball of coldfire at the surrounded Goblin on the wagon seat. One thing to note, I’ll need to be cautious of giving in to the power itself. I’m a bit concerned at how easy it was to get lost in the moment. I’ll have to speak to Emeric about this soon. I wonder if he has the same concerns?

The Engro, however, are extremely cheerful. From the moment we approached, they showed no concern at our intentions. The leader as best I can tell, Nariss, quickly invited us to join him and his family. He even offered to share the stew that the group had been making if we might add a bit of meat to the pot. Kollsvein and Thuringil went off into the woods to see if they might find something to share, but I have no doubts even should they return empty handed that it would make no difference to Nariss and his folk. The odd thing is I’ve always heard that Engro weren’t to be trusted. We were even warned when entering the camp to keep an eye on any of them getting close to our wagons. I just can’t seem to find any duplicity in their actions. Again, how easy is it to misjudge those around you? It’s not hard to see being Frostborn, but I wonder if any one else even thinks on it.

While waiting for Thuringil and Kollsvein to return, Emeric and I watched Malik play a game of horseshoes against Nariss. Malik showed some extreme skill! Nariss however appears to have played even more. I suggested a fun game to my brother and we took up arms against that damned evasive metal post. It was truly enjoyable and in the end I was bested, much to the enjoyment of the Engro who were chuckling a bit at our epic struggle. It was nice to be able to find some relaxation even so far from home. Well, Kollsvein and Thuringil should be returning soon. I only hope that Kollsvein minds his earlier wounds and doesn’t work too hard to find some meat while hunting. I’d hate to have to rebind his wounds. It certainly isn’t as easy as the Militia healers made it look!

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Letter That Cannot Be Sent

Beloved Jothindur,

I knew humans were short-lived and therefore short-sighted and impatient, but I thought the women were supposed to be easier to get along with then the men. Kryllin is the kind of human who gives humans a bad name. She complains constantly, has no sense of proportion, and is as spoiled a child as I have ever known. I have to keep reminding myself that is indeed the problem: she’s a child. A child. Older than our own two, but still a child. Not even yet twenty, I think, which is — well, I’m not sure how humans count that, actually. But practically an infant.

Although I take it she’s reached physical maturity, since her mentor was so concerned for her chastity. Clearly her own worries lie more along the lines of sorting out how to part with it.

I’m conflicted: my mission is to protect her, but does that include protecting her virtue? If she were to choose to accept the advances of Malik or Kollsvein, or any other, would I be neglecting my duty to her? If she were an elf, of course, it would be her own choice to make, but she’s a human and they have different standards regarding these matters, I suspect because they are so fecund.

If she were to choose one, it seems Kollsvein is the more likely, and to my mind the more suitable. He’s easily as young or younger than she, but a good hearted boy. He reminds me of Agereth when he was younger: earnest and brave, and eager to prove himself.

Kryllin did spend some time in conversation with me after the battle with the goblins, talking on matters of mortality. She seemed quite melancholy, very pessimistic, and I’ll admit it was alarming how seriously she was injured and how hopeless our quest seems. She asked about my past, but of course I could not tell her. She also asked me: would I rather be dead?

No.

No, I would rather be alive, with you at my side, enduring the petulance and growing pains of our own Methr and Osa. How I miss you. But I survived, and so I will continue to survive, until my death can serve what ever purpose it must. And then, if the poets and clerics are right, perhaps I will feel your hand in mine once more.

Yours in Bond Past Life,
Thuringil

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The Ferryman
Sowanmonan, 4th Heafoddaeg

_This is the story of the Ferryman, as told by the Skald Kryllin and passed among the wagoners that travel the Western Route, and the dwarves of the Icebarrier Mountains. _

At the Spring River crossing stopped a caravan bound west. It was loaded with salt and pottery and populated by the usual assortment of wagoners. But its guardians were an odd little troupe.

Among the guard were two wizard brothers, one of fire, the other born of frost, each powerful and menacing, but devoted to their task. With them was a banished elven noble, hapless and naive, his bitterness robbing him of even the easy manner that makes most elves tolerable. Their leader was Kollsvein the Bear, a skilled warrior, with a size to match his courage.

And there was also Malik, the Thief, who carried with him a malevolent treasure: an evil mask that gives demonic power to its wearer, but controls his every action. Malik’s dark cargo was unknown to the others, for he jealously guarded it and concealed it in secret.

The Spring River Ferryman was nowhere to be seen that evening, nor was the ferry, so they made camp for the night, alongside an encampment of diminutive and cheerful Engro, who also waited to cross.

The brothers passed a pleasant evening in the company of the Engro, pitching horseshoes and sharing in their stew, while Kollsvein went hunting. The elf joined him as his squire.

The Engro had a healing woman, a witch called Aya, who sought out Malik, as like seeks like. She lured him into her trailer with promises of sinister magics for Malik to use, then used those very magics against him, trapping him inside her sanctum.

“I know about the Mask you carry,” she said. “Give it over to me and you may yet live. Do not expect to escape this place, for the Ferryman is dead. We saw to that.”

In the woods, Kollsvein tracked and slew a mighty elk he’d found drinking beside a pool! He was busy dressing it while the elf retrieved arrows. But, when the elf ventured too close to the pool, a Grindylow grabbed him and pulled him into the freezing water!

The elf’s horse, frightened by the massive elk, had returned to camp, alerting the brother wizards that something was amiss! Away they flew to aid Kollsvein, not suspecting the trouble Malik was in.

Inside her trailer, Witch and Thief bargained, as both are wont to do. Aya demanded the mask, and Malik retrieved it from its hiding place. On the table, he sat its case, locked and trapped in any number of cagey ways.

In the woods, the elf coughed and sputtered as the Grindylow pressed his advantage. Suddenly, seemingly from nowhere, there emerged an ally—an axe-wielding stranger in black leathers, drenched to the bone. He leapt into the pool and chopped at the Grindylow with his axe while the elf retreated to safety.

Soon the brother wizards arrived and with their spells kept the Grindylow at bay. The stranger climbed from the pool and greeted the others.

“I am lost,” he said, “and must return to my family by dark. The sun is setting. My home is up a rise, a thousand yards from the river and in sight of the road. Please help me.”

The stranger seemed disoriented and could hardly give his own name, but he had saved the bumbling elf from certain doom and so they were indebted to him. Reluctantly, with an eye toward the setting sun, they accompanied him on his search.

In her trailer, Witch contended with Thief. It is not for us to know what dark bargains passed between them, what oaths they made and broke, or what carnal powers they raised to do their bidding, for only they were there, and both would lie with ease to protect their secrets. But, when all was done, Malik the Thief was free and the Witch was trussed like a goat, her trailer engulfed in flames.

While Malik used the Witch as a hostage against her fellow Engro and tortured her for magic secrets, the others aided a lost man in search of his family.

As dusk came, the man came upon a rise and looked around, confused. “They should be here,” he said, “But there is nothing here but more woods.”

In the gloaming, confusion turned to insanity.

“Where is my family? Where is my home? My wife! My daughter! I must reach them. I must! Wait. Who are you? What are you doing on this side of the river, little half-man? What can a lone Ferryman do for you? What are you…why do you have that knife?”

The woodsman, still soaking wet, pulled down his armor’s collar to reveal a deep slit in his throat. A mortal wound.

“Must swim. Must find my family. Must live! Must see my wife and daughter again!”

As darkness fell on the little rise in the woods, insanity became rage.

“You!” He pointed to the Ice Brother, seeing only what his insanity allowed, confusing the Brother for his killer. He flew at the Brother with his axe.

The fight was short and brutal. At the end, the woodsman lay defeated and unmoving.

In silence, Kollsvein and the others journeyed back to camp. The Fire Brother took control of the blaze that had consumed most of the Witch’s trailer.

The others, perhaps perverted for a time by their contact with the living dead, joined Malik in his tortures, which would have lasted deep into the night, had the Witch not escaped and fled with her fellow Engro.

Malik explained to the others that the Ferryman was dead, and that no Ferry would be coming. But, as luck would have it, a Shield Knight arrived the next morning with the Ferry from across the river and made his way Eastward, leaving the Ferry for them to use.

They crossed and headed West. There on the left, up a rise, a thousand yards from the river and in sight of the road, they spied a small homestead.

It was the elf who insisted that they should stop. He went to the gate and, with a voice and manner that showed him familiar with loss, told the woman of the house that her husband, the Ferryman, was dead.

“Why would you lie to me so,” said the woman, as she looked past the elf and down to the road.

Up the rise, walking slowly and still drenched in his leather armors, came the stranger. The others drew their weapons, but the stranger made no move toward them. He stumbled instead up the rise and into the arms of his wife.

There, the Ferryman disappeared into the morning mist, as his wife fell to the ground, weeping.

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Undying Love and Discouraging Deeds

It seems I may have been hasty in my original entry regarding the nature of Engro, much to my dismay. I still refuse to say that all Engro are of the same mindset, however the ones that we encountered showed two very different sides of the same coin. On the one hand, they are intensely loyal to an accepted job, as well as chain of command. It didn’t appear that any bargaining would dissuade them from ending their contract with an unnamed Lord in Keep. They also followed the orders given them by their elders without question, as far as I can tell. Even when those orders led to the death of an innocent man simply to slow our travels and give them a chance to deceive us.

Malik was able to escape their trap quite adroitly and even managed to capture the elder matron of the group who ordered the Ferryman’s life snuffed out. Her face seemed so at ease with the thought of killing out of hand. There was no betrayal of emotion or remorse, just simply that of a task completed to further the job at hand. I wonder if my own visage during the Goblin attack was as empty of emotion… Despite what she had done, she was still safely under guard and there was no need for her neck to be bound or her breath cut off. I’d have thought more people carried a small knife at their sides, but amazingly the only person who had one was the person holding her in check! I can understand the need to keep her hands bound given her skill at magic and her willingness to use it, but there is no need to inflict pain for the sake of pain especially since she was safely in check. My only fear is that she will walk freely for her crime, her only loss a cart and some time from her evening. It disheartens me.

Still some things encourage me during this journey, as amazing and otherworldly they may be. It was truly inspiring to see the love of two people traversing even death’s chasm. This past morning I bore witness to an unbreakable bond between two people as the Ferryman’s ghost returned home to the waiting arms of his wife. A phantom! I would never have believed such was possibly if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes! I’m happy to know that he was able to find some peace in his final moments in this world and I’m sure that the heart of his wife soared knowing he still loved her would be waiting.

Just as disturbing though, is the thought that maybe all those whispers in the taverns of Myre weren’t simple stories run amok. Maybe the priests were giving warning and the tales of abominations in the land rising from their resting places weren’t false imaginings. The moment he revealed his wound it was apparent that the cut he bore was mortal, that his life had bled out long before. What corrupting presence could have the power to reawaken those already passed on from Rassilon?! What does this portend! I can only hope that should the once dead walk the land, mayhap something good and gracious does as well. The further we journey south, the more we seem to encounter fantastical sights. Maybe this is but a common day in the life of those here and simply my lack of experience. I’d have expected life to become less complicated as we left the north behind! And now, the Shield Knight says that we leave the civilized lands behind, with refuge and safety few and far between on the road ahead! I don’t believe I can even being to imagine the sights that will cross our path, but I look forward to facing them with this brave group of caravan companions.

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Sympathy for the She-Devil

Just before dawn, when the sky was beginning to show pale blue at the eastern horizon, Thuringil had just finished the last watch of the night. He shrugged his cloak closer around his shoulders, and set to work preparing tea over a low fire, throwing in dried herbs and a twisted bit of knobby root: mint and ginger, mostly, but with a precious bit of starflower. Fragrant steam curled from the pot as he stirred it, reminding him of happier places, happier times. When it was brewed he poured it carefully into a pair of metal flasks, and as golden light crept into the mist-laden air, he pulled his hood low and went to keep watch over one of a cluster of wagons with his peace offering in hand.

Moments later, Kryllan emerged, once more dressed in the shapeless grey frock of a Sister of Mercy. She made her way to the dying fire and perched on an upturned log, unaware or perhaps just uncaring that she was being watched.

Thuringil studied her for a moment, searching for signs of sickness or any change, but she looked the same as she had since he first agreed to be her protector: pale, cross, with a perpetual pout on her otherwise pretty face. He joined her, sitting next to her on a second makeshift seat, and held one of the flasks out to her. She turned a sour look on him, but that hardly came as a surprise. “Are you well?” he asked. He uncapped his own flask and took a sip himself, to show it was safe to drink, then offered her the second again.

Irate fire flashed in her dark eyes, but her gaze want to the offering . After some hesitation she answered, “I’m fine”, and took the tea without a thank you. She sniffed it, then held it in both hands, hunching over the small source of warmth and sipping the tea in little mouthfuls.

Thuringil cleared his throat. “I know you don’t care for my company, but I wanted to talk. To tell you… If I had known how you were misused by your mentor Dalrius, I would have… I….” He stammered, unsure whether to continue, and flinched away from her accusing glare, staring instead at the low flames licking the charred edges of their campfire. “What he did to you would never be tolerated amongst my people. Had I known you were in danger, I would have done everything within my power to protect you from him. I’m sorry I failed you.”

Her answer was a guttural string of harsh syllables — Dwarven, perhaps, or one of the many Human languages — undoubtedly a curse. “Why do you have to make everything about you?” she demanded, switching to Trade. “Or did you even consider that this happened before you ever even came along?”

Thuringil let her tirade wash over him, preparing to give up his attempt to talk to the girl, but something about Kryllin’s expression softened so that she seemed less angry and more young. A little ashamed. “It happened more than once,” she said quietly. Her eyes never strayed from the gently steaming flask clutched between long-fingered hands. “And I told no one.”

Cold, impotent fury roiled like nausea in Thuringil’s gut. He kept his face turned towards the fire, but midnight blue eyes flicked to the corners, studying her. "Yes. I understood you must have conceived before I met you. It’s the… the…” He slipped into Elvish for a moment, reaching for a word meaning ‘peril at the hands of a protector’.

Kryllin’s raised eyebrows said she didn’t understand.

“There’s no word for it in Trade,” he told her. “It’s the fact of ‘more than once’ that I wish I could havce protected you from.” One blue-skinned hand clenched into a fist, and the other crushed hard against the flask of tea. “When you asked me before about life and death…” He hesitated. “You knew?”

“I knew,” she answered. “The sickness came one morning, not long after our journey began.”

He nodded. Paused again. Kryllin looked curiously at him, waiting for him to speak. The longer he hesitated, the more her forehead creased in annoyance.

A Gray Legionary had no past, they said, only the mission. But the mission, this young woman who still seemed a child to his Elven eyes… The mission was changed.

“This tea is the kind my bond-mate and I shared with the mother of our children when she carried them,” he told her, words tumbling out in a rush and accented more than usual. “It eased her sickness.”

“You have children?” She sounded astonished.

“I…” He swallowed, then plunged ahead. “I had children. Two. Methr, a boy, and Osa, a girl. Osa looked most like me, and Methr took after his other father.”

It was so easy to see their faces, Osa with her silver curls tucked behind long ears, her sky blue cheeks creased with a bright smile. Methr with his gap-toothed smirk and darker coloring, begging for a game of cross stone. Jothindir, dark as their son, with hair that never curled, and the same slight gap between his teeth. The same promise of mischief dancing in his eyes.

“What… what happened?” asked Kryllin. Her irritation was gone, replaced by apprehensive curiosity.

Thuringil took a deep breath, squaring his shoulders. “I was betrayed. My family slain.” His voice broke ragged for a moment, then settled again, dull and distant to his own ears. “I would have perished with them, but a cousin brought me to safety and hid me until I was well enough to flee.”

She lifted her eyes from her tea to regard him frankly. “Elves must be different. Among humans, the honorable man would have died with his family.” There was no sympathy in her voice.

Thuringil was grateful; sympathy would have broken him.

“I wanted to,” he told her. “But my cousin… As a member of the court, he had a responsibility to protect my life. My position as surviving pri—” The word fractured in the middle, too dangerous to speak, and too meaningless. “I surrendered all that I was,” he told her instead, “to take up the mantle of the Gray Legion. Because you are right I should have died with Jothindur and our children.”

He felt her eyes tracing the grey cord slung over his right shoulder, the signifier of his vow to the Grey Legion, his loyalty, and his willingness to die in that service.

“My teacher had similar reason for taking on the Grey Rope,” she said. “He was a good man. Truly. But prone to great fits of melancholy. Do you have such anguish? Do you drink? Do you hit? Do you rape?” She looked away sharply, adding as if she were talking to herself, “Why would you not?”

“All who wear the Rope live in sorrow. That’s no excuse for taking advantage of a child,” Thuringil snapped, as anger replaced regret. “It’s no excuse for any of those things. It sickens me to think of it, and to know you now fear it in me because of Dalrius’s vileness. He was not worthy of the Grey Rope.”

She scowled. “I don’t fear you.” Then her expression turned inward and she looked away, studying her tea as if it held answers. “I’m not sure I fear anything, anymore. My life — the life I had planned for myself — it’s ruined. No man will take me. These men… They already look at me differently. My travels are at an end, and my looks will avail me little when my belly swells. Who will hear my songs then?"

“Then perhaps you are ready to take the Grey Rope as well,” Thuringil told her with wry sadness, “if you have nothing left to look forward to but death. But I hope it’s not so. A ruined life is still a life. And you carry a new life. Though if you wish not to see it come to light, I can’t blame you.” What woman would want to raise the child of her rapist? No Elf would, and probably no human, either.

“There are ways,” he offered. “If you wish to end this life before it grows."

Her eyelids flickered, but Thuringil had too little experience with humans to read her expression.

“Why is your career as a skald in ruins?” he asked instead. “Is it so in human society, that a woman is only valued if a man will have her?”

“No, it’s…” She hesitated, then plunged ahead, voice rising in distress. “It has nothing to do with humans. It has to do with me! Boys…. It’s important to me that boys like me. And, yes, I know about the ‘ways’. A woman in Keep gave me something to help, should I wish to use it. But it’s too late now! Kol— these men already know. Curse that Malik.”

Thuringil’s brow furrowed in puzzlement as he tried to remember what he knew of the rules of chastity and honor among humans. “But you remain beautiful, don’t you? I see no sign, and Kollsvein and Malik are both taken with you. Surely your situation is no doing of your own. Your virtue was not freely given.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Kryllin wailed. “Don’t you know the limericks? ‘There once was a virgin from Hellic, whose cunny was rare as a relic…’” When Thuringil gave her a blank look, she waved an inpatient hand. “It doesn’t matter. The point is that men wish to venture in unknown places. They may claim otherwise, but they can’t control it. I’m ruined in their eyes. And Malik is nothing to me now.” She spat at the ground and stamped her foot, as if speaking Malik’s name had put a foul taste in her mouth.

“I can’t speak for humans,” Thuringil told her, “but I can promise you that there’s more to desire than a wish to conquer unexplored realms, at least for elven men.” He laughed dryly, pushing away bittersweet memories of Jothindur. “Don’t worry, you have nothing to fear from me in that regard. Still, I’m sure you’re far from ruined.”

“Maybe you’re right,” she said slowly. “Maybe there is a future for me, but not with these men.” She touched her belly, pressing a hand flat against the grey robes. “And probably not in here.” She tipped her flask up, drinking the last of her tea, then looked at the fire. “I will do it soon.”

“The herbs?” Thuringil hesitated, then reached a cautious hand to touch her shoulder. It was thinner than he’d expected. More delicate.

She was still a child.

“When you do it, tell me first, and I’ll guard you and bring you medicine for your pains. Between the birth of my son and my daughter, there were two who died before their time and were brought out with the same method. I won’t leave you to face that alone.”

“Ugh!” She jerked away as if his touch had burned her and got to her feet. “Why would I want an elf man around? Gods! Why do you always have to be such a greplkch? Now if you don’t mind, I need to vomit and make water, unless you’d like to be there for that, too! Ugh!”

Before Thuringil could quite react, she stormed away, heading for the trees near the water’s edge.

In an instant Thuringil’s sympathy for her vanished. He rolled his eyes and tossed the remaining tea in his own flask into the fire. “Idiot child, you’ll get yourself killed,” he said under his breath in Elvish, staring after her. “If I’m going to have to sneak around and follow you all the damn time to protect you from yourself, it’s time for Kollsvein to learn the meaning of leadership. He can help keep an eye on you.” Pulling up his hood and checking the set of his sword at his side, he went to find their young knight.

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A Journey Begun

This was written after the party had set out from Keep and before the Goblin attack

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Griven and I had been waiting at the small town of Keep for another caravan to take us on the next leg of our journey towards The Citadel. The caravan master, Ulfwald, had delayed departure several times and, due to a bandit attack, had delayed it again. Many people were upset, but I saw it as another opportunity to continue Griven’s studies of the Art.

As the crowd that was to join the caravan dispersed, a very gregarious man approached us and introduced himself as Malik. He was looking for a way to allow the caravan to continue, despite the threat of bandit attacks. He suggested that Griven and myself serve as guards. I thought this preposterous. Griven and I had made sure to not draw any attention to his Arcane abilities. And a single mage cannot perform guard duties, even were he an arkhwisard.

Griven and I quickly declined, grabbed our mounts and made our way to the only Inn in town. A few other people gathered there, as well. This was to be expected after the cancelation of the caravan’s departure. We had not sat very long when one of the caravan drivers decided to blame Griven for the cancelation. I challenged him, verbally and refused to back down, despite Griven’s attempts to calm me. This moron seemed thirsty for blood, as he would not back down in a public setting (a place I thought safe from true violence). Just at this time, a very large Saxan interceded on our behalf. He attempted to remind the imbecile of the region’s Hospitality rules (something I’m still unfamiliar with). The caravan driver, who rather looked like he had a large pimple for a head, finally backed down. But he managed to prove his idiocy with a final threat to physical combat outside the Inn, but only for my brother and myself. I was tempted to reward such bravery with a warm embrace emanating from my fingers. But I knew it would only draw more unwanted attention.

The Saxan was indeed very kind and introduced himself as Kollsvein and joined us at our table. He wore the accoutrement of a guard and was amenable to comfortable conversation. He hastened to ensure us that not everyone in Keep was as close-minded as the cabbage-brained caravan driver. It was during our polite conversation that I noticed Malik at another table with an Elf (they do look weird!) and a younger lady who had taken the robes of a healer. They had begun to gamble and both Griven & Kollsvein wished to join them. Having not studied this form of game, I wished to observe before placing any bets. Through the course of the game, Kollsvein was losing badly and appeared to get visibly upet. I cooled his manner by continuing to provide him with ale, as the game wore on.

As we sat and enjoyed the distraction, the mouth-breathing caravan driver bust into the door with several other mental giants. They blabbered something not worth repeating and immediately attacked us! Such behavior! Could these people truly live in a civilized society? Lucky enough for Griven and myself, all the others at our table joined in on our side. It was looking to be a close scrape until I summoned Flying Flames and pulled far more power than I had in the past.

The result was…astonishing. The man who had his arm around me was burnt to little more than cinders. The only understanding I have of this is that it’s part of the natural ebb & flow of magic. And just as I had wild success with this casting, I must expect there will be times of wild failure. I know the magic Erghust worked in both my & my brother’s flesh protects us, yet I don’t think that is what allowed this to happen. It requires more study, this is for certain.

After this and a few smart moves from our new allies, the other trodglodytes ran for the door. As they ran out, the caravan master walked in. He spoke to Kollsvein, asking him if he would lead us in defense of the caravan. Kollsvein did well to not let on about us not knowing each other (perhaps Ulfwald already knew this) and cut a deal with the caravan master. I was happy to have a quick escape from this hole of a town (honestly, open attacks in public…what a rat’s nest).

Shortly after this arrangement was made, I acquiantanced myself with the Elf, Thuringil and the lady, Kryllin. It appears that Thuringil is guarding Kryllin from…well, the entire world, it would seem. She seems unhappy, yet accepts this situation.

Early the next day, Griven and I helped load the caravan. I think now, that the laborers entertained the desires of a lame mage out of fear of what happened to the caravan driver the night before. I was simply eager to help and to stay close to Griven. After the preparations were made, we mounted up and set out to leave. However, before leaving town, a Dwarven wagon, with a full complement of warriors, insisted we allow them to travel with us. After a fair amount of debate, Kollsvein told us the Dwarves would travel with us, but that we should not count on them for defense. An odd arrangement, but I saw no immediate harm from it.

It was shortly after we had set out that Kollsvein was backed into a verbal corner and had to admit that this was his first time on such an expedition. I think he hesitates out of wanting to look like a true warrior. Although experience counts for much, I see his heart is true…and this is all a true hero needs. Perhaps I wax romantic, but I see great deeds in that one’s future…or a glorious death.

We have been traveling for several days. Although I worry about becoming lax in my vigil as a caravan guard, the days do drag on. Griven and I have taken to playing word games to keep the experience fresh, yet even this does little to quicken the passage of time or space. I have just relieved Griven from his post as the sun breaks over the rim of the horizon. My convictions burn more fierce at these time. Why is this place becoming colder? Why is it ever harder to pull Fyr from it’s home to serve my temporary purposes? The questions burn in my mind in the idle hours we have.

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of Heroes and Goblins

Emeric wrote this shortly after the goblin attack, before coming upon the Engro encampment.

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I curse myself for complaining of the boredom of the open road. The woods shelter far worse than boredom. Goblins attacked us on our venture through the Southern most part of the Drakewood. Goblinwood, more like; though I’m happy to not tangle with a drake!

They were far smarter than I would have given forest creatures. They felled a tree in our path, forcing us to stop. They wasted no time in attacking and we wasted no time in countering! Griven led the way with cold fury burning a few of the creatures. I followed suit by warming the hides of some of the creatures, myself.

As Griven and I attended to our side of the wagon, Malik, Kryllin and Thuringil protected the rear of the caravan, along with the dwarves. I failed to see much of their part of the battle. However, I know that Thuringil was able to fight off enough of the enemy to aid Griven and myself with arrows sent from his bow. Quite a deadly warrior that Elf, even attempting to kick the enemy in the face when faced with no other options.

At the same time, Kollsvein attended to the other side of the caravan all by himself. He fought bravely and well. Yet, his horse faltered and he fell. The goblins took full advantage of this and wounded him deeply. However, Koll proved stronger and rose to meet the challenge again. By this time, I was able to make my way over and finish off the band of skirmishers. The Magician’s Lance proved powerful once again as it weaved it’s deadly embrace around Koll to burn the goblins down to the very bone.

And again…Again, I pulled the Fyr with more intensity than I’m used to. The intoxicating rush of power running down my arm to lay waste to those I oppose!

Ah…And down that path lies self-destruction. The kiss of Fyr is sweet and intoxicating, tempting the loss of self in it’s power. I would yield to that only in desperation or for a worthy cause. But for now, I must control it in order to better protect Griven and the others. And perhaps to unlock the mysteries of the cold affecting our world.

Anyhow, we eventually killed enough of the creatures to scare the rest away. Koll and Kryllin received bad wounds. Griven tended to both quite well and with the patience I so envy in him. One of our wagons was lost and we were forced to move our belongings to the others. All considered, things could have faired far worse for us.

One benefit of that battle was thet the dwarves warmed to us. I suppose they were impressed that we didn’t cower in fear at the sight of the goblin attack. Some of them even suffered our company at the same campfire. I feel childish in admitting the thrill this sent through me. This increased tolerance has allowed me to get close enough to them to hear their language quite well. I practice the phrases in my mind and under my breath when the travels grow long. I feel I will soon be able to converse with them. Of course, I could ask Kryllin to teach me. Her fluency in the Dwarven language is obvious by her frequent performances for the Dwarf lord. However, I must admit to the thrill of solving a puzzle unaided.

I must admit, the road does not treat me well. As kind as my sweet Patience is, the hours of riding have taken their toll on me. I was forced to ride in the wagon with the girl while regaining my strength. The comfort was so welcome and so unexpected, I had a lapse of character when first introduced to it. Yet, I suppose long travels will do that to a person. Many parts of this journey are new experiences for me.

Ulfwald says we are approaching a river soon and it will be good place to stop and take stock of our progress. Perhaps I’ll have time for a hot bath. The gods know I am in need of one.

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