The Dark Ages

Letter to Marshall Roehm
Beláldur's message to the Marshall

My Lord Marshall Victor Roehm,

Greetings and may this letter find you in good health. Let me first congratulate you on your victory at Yew. I know the price was high, but I feel the tide is turning at last, and humans are beginning to push back the darkness in their lands. I’m writing to tell you news of the so-proclaimed “Heroes of the Barony” – Mazlor, Grel, Børæn, Pyria, Fergus, Balto, Ceresei and myself – and our actions in and near the village of Truebrugh.

We arrived in Truebrugh on the 16th of Fall, and no sooner than we had dropped anchor we were met by the village leader, Lord Alden Wagner, no doubt responding to the commotion our arrival had started with the townsfolk. He gave us a grave report – around 100 of the afflicted creatures known as the Damned were outside the village in a tightly-grouped, but unmoving force, and 10 of his own villagers lie either dead or Damned themselves between the town and that large force. Grel and Mazlor had claimed that the Damned might be inflicted with a disease that could be cured, so we made a plan to ride out on horseback and catch one of the 10 in one of my old fishing nets. We managed to haul one back to town, where Mazlor had prepared an area to work a ritual of the Light. I don’t know what magic he did, but It worked – the Damned girl we’d brought back was fully restored and healthy as a bull shark, amazing! We repeated the process, one at a time and sometimes with the help of magic or brute strength to hold the Damned in place, and although some were either already dead or didn’t survive the process, we did save a few more.

A rider had been spotted before we’d gotten there by someone in town, so we decided to ride around the large group of Damned to have a look. We found a large group of tracks the Damned had made, and camped nearby to see if the rider would return. It was soon after that when we hooked our biggest fish yet, one of the Black Brotherhood! Thanks to Ceresei’s quick thinking, we soon had her held under a number of spells and I brought her off her horse with my lasso. This was a lower-rank member of the Brotherhood, and of course she wasn’t quick to talk with us, but an enchantment by Pyria soon loosened her tongue. She told us the location and numbers of the Black Brotherhood crew nearby, and she let slip that the Damned had been controlled by one of their leaders – with the use of some powerful skull artifact perched atop a staff, he or she had been able to make them march on command! The Brotherhood force numbered around 35, including a spellcasting priest and a champion swordswoman, and I thought we’d have no way to beat them, but some of the others wisely asked Lord Wagner if he could put together some of the villagers into a militia, and soon he’d assembled 3 units – including an archery unit – and we were off to battle.

As we approached, we successfully dispatched with one of their sentries which gave us a chance to catch them by surprise. I still wasn’t sure of the odds of success, so I tied on the headband of a fallen friend of mine, to honor him if things went badly. Fortunately, we were able to catch them away from their horses, and had a large wolf at hand to bravely run in and panic the steeds. As a battle commander, you have no need for me to tell you what a big advantage it is to engage cavalry off their mounts! After a few volleys from our arrows, the Brotherhood crew was either dead or in full flight away from us. All except their champion that is, who chose to challenge Børæn to a duel, a decision that proved to be unwise. I believe the Black Brotherhood may have abandoned this ship and most likely will not soon return to the area around Truebrugh, although the Damned still lie silently outside the village. We still hold the Brotherhood woman captive.

I hope that you can make use of this news. If you have powerful clerics under your command I believe the knowledge that the Damned can be cured will be most helpful! Also, be warned that we don’t know the whereabouts of that skull, and the enemy may still have the ability to command the Damned to do their bidding. If you have any news for us about the current situation, or any instructions on how we might best help, please send a messenger back to me at the Hound and Nixie Inn located in Old Fawn.

Your ally in dire times,
-Beláldur

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Battling the Damned
Balto's Journal

Once back in Old Fawn, our party rested and took stock. As the mustering of Marshal Roehm’s army filled the town, I met over first breakfast with my adventuring companions Belaldur, Boraen, and Fergus. Boraen was determined to get a powerful bow, and there were rumors that a large party of Legionnaires had disappeared on a monster hunt in the woods northeast of Enonia. Now, they had disappeared decades ago, without a trace – killed by this monster? – but that meant their gear and treasure might yet be unplundered.

As Fergus called Josef and Willie from their weapons practice, and Talvi turned up at Boraen’s side, Grel showed up. By the time we found and rousted the hired tracker Golub, our companion Ostlen joined us. We agreed to seek out the Legionnaires, or what remained of them.

On our way to Ulichton, Grel became increasingly agitated. He finally asked Boraen a question, and Boraen pulled out a chunk of chaos crystal from the summoning circle. Grel said the chaos it emitted would be a threat to us, and his holy water scarcely marred it. We stopped in Ulichton and Grel passed it along to a cleric of his cult, with instructions to take it to Jorann in Enonia for disposal. We checked on Meesha’s cult settlement, then headed into the woods on our quest.

The monster that the Legionnaires had hunted in the Darkwoods was a large beast that only attacked at night, in the dark. After we settled in for the night, and set watches, we heard it crashing towards our camp, but our fire seemed to warn it off. The next day we followed its path of broken trees and undergrowth, until we came upon a well-worn path. We gave off our pursuit of the monster and followed the path.

Late that morning, we heard the sounds of soldiers marching towards us, and we melted into the woods. Boraen leapt high into the tree above the path; the rest of us hid amongst the underbrush. Eighteen Legionnaires, disciplined and eerily quiet, marched two abreast down the path. They did not seem to note anything to the sides, and I wondered if they had been cursed. I cast a stone into the woods to their right and behind them and nine peeled off and searched through the woods before rejoining their fellows, who had waited on the path.

Then things got interesting. Boraen dropped down behind them, and they whirled around and charged towards him. Boraen tried to leap back into the tree, but missed the branch. Grel shouted to me, “Use Entangle,” and I called on the plants to rise up and stop the Legionnaires.

Except they weren’t Legionnaires anymore. They were Damned – the first I had ever seen! And they weren’t all entangled, either! It was a desperate fight. Boraen was surrounded and hard-pressed, and I was injured when a couple came clawing and biting at me towards the end of the battle.

Belaldur and Grel had hoped to capture at least one, but the rest of us shouted them down – how were we to get these terrors through the forest? And could they even be cured, after these many years? – and all these Damned perished.

They had nothing but armor and weapons, but of very fine make. Those of us who needed weapons took them; Boraen cut a fine figure in the armor. Willie and Josef wanted to use the armor, too. but once back in town, we convinced them to relinquish the Legionnaire armor (and the enmity of any Legionnaire they ran into) for some fine chain mail. We left the gear with Amifrey, our contact and fence in Old Fawn, and he arranged to sell it on our behalf.

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The end of the Damned Legionnaires
Grel’s report to Jorann at the Temple

Grel: Priestess, I am deeply troubled. Would you sit with me and hear my tale?

Jorann: Of course my child. Please tell me what happened.

Grel: It was the 9th day of fall, Boraen, Balto, Beladur and Fergus were discussing some intel that they had gained about some legionnaires who had gone off to fight some monsters and never came back. It seemed a fine idea to go off to find where they fell and lay claim to their weapons. The fact that there was some beast which had dispatched an unknown number of Legionnaires was troubling, but we decided that we were up for it.

So off we went, Boraen, Balto, Beladur and Fergus, Ostlen, myself, Vilhelm, Josef and a thoroughly distasteful and cowardly tracker named Golub. We set off to hunt down these rumors and see what we could find.

I was getting an annoying feel of chaos from Boraen, and when I asked him what it was, he pulled out a crystal shard of pure chaos! He allowed me to destroy it, but I was unable! It was too powerful. I covered it with holy water, but it only pitted the surface slightly. I was more than a little disturbed. Since we were going to Ulichton anyway, I stopped in to see Torak. He seemed to be getting along well. I showed him the crystal and charged him with it’s destruction. He was less than thrilled….He tried blessing it, but again, it was far too strong for him. He reluctantly agreed to continue blessing it, but then I mentioned that Jorann could probably take care of it. He immediately jumped up and started making preparations for his journey. I left him then and met up with my companions.

They had found more rumors and people who remembered the legionnaires going off.
We went off to the woods where they had last been seen. They had gone after a beast that was apparently afraid of fire. Rumor had it, that if you had a fire, it would not attack, but if you didn’t, you would never be seen again. We wisely decided to light a campfire. We heard the beast come near, but it never approached the fire.

In the morning, we continued in the direction it went. We came across a worn deer path. We decided to follow it, and soon came upon eighteen of the Legionnaires themselves marching on the path. Something seemed very off with them, but I wasn’t sure what. Balto shot a sling stone off into the woods, and half of them charged into the woods after it, while the others waited for them. No words were spoken. Again, it seemed very odd, but I wasn’t sure what was wrong.

Then Boraen jumped down from a tree right behind them. Immediately they turned around and charged him. It was only then, that I noticed that they were attacking with their hands and teeth. They never drew a weapon. These Legionnaires were the Damned!!! If only I had realized sooner, perhaps there was a way that they could have been cured. But with them attacking Boraen, I had no choice but to defend him.

I called out to Balto, to entangle as many as possible. He did, and half of them were stuck in place. We were able to dispatch them, but I can’t help feeling that if only I had realized sooner, they could have been saved.

Priestess, it is not that I feel that my actions were wrong, but that an opportunity to save eighteen powerful fighters for the kingdom has been squandered partly by my lack of insight. What can I do to assuage this guilt?

Jorann: Grel my son, you can’t take the blame for everything that you don’t know. We are but mortals. We can only do the best that we can. I feel sure that if Tangadorin had meant for you to rescue these Legionnaires, he would have given you better insight. You can’t blanme yourself for what could have been. There are an infinite number of them. We can only do our best, and hope it is enough.

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The Rescue of the Worshipers and the Rise of Chaos
The Chronicle of Børæn

A quiet settles over the valley.

It is dawn, and the first hints of the morning sun is peaking between the branches of the high forest overlooking the valley. Creeping in the morning shadows is a large man. He hair hangs loose, and grey streaks that and his beard. His eyes dart from side-to-side searching for something.

Hunting beside him is a wolf cub. Not yet two winters old, he is the heir to the lore of his mother. Young, and still learning, the cub is quickly learning the way of the hunt with his human. His name is Turgon, and it is a name, Børæn told the cub, is a name of honor.

The two stalk.

Wolf smells the air, and the man tightens his grip on a bow. The bow is massive in his hands, and the man carries it with purpose.

Turgon stops. His body grows tense. Børæn smiles.

Suddenly Børæn turns, and let’s fly a arrow. It strikes a orc in the neck, killing it instantly. Just as quick as his first strike, Børæn turns again, killing another orc, as well as an other behind it, charging at the man. More orcs come, and Børæn drops his bow, draws his sword and smiled. The smile is one which unnerves even the orcs.

Børæn strikes, and Turgon joins.

Sword dismembers.

Bite cripples.

The orcs try to overwhelm, but the man and wolf is too much. The fight is over before it even started. 12 orcs have died.

Turgon looks at Børæn quizzically.

“You did good little one. We leave them. These bastards will not think about entering the valley again.”

The two make their way down from the high forest, and Børæn and Turgon come to a stone overlook that has been named “Børæn Thorne.” It is here were he comes to think, and look over the valley of his people. It is here, where the man can be alone.

Børæn sits, and Turgon follows. The cub looks at the man, and whines.

Without looking, Børæn digs into a bag and tosses the wolf a hunk of last nights venison. The wolf happy, wags his tail.

Finished, the wolf curls up to Børæn who softly pets his head.

“Your name is a name of a great man. A man who I was lucky to meet. Lucky to learn from. Lucky to fight besides. Lucky to call friend.”

“I gave you his name, because it is a name that should be remembered. If it was not for him, my path would have never led me back to my people. Never would have led us to the valleys.”

“We set out for Meesha’s shrine. It was myself, Turgon, Belaldur, Balto, Fergus and their two henchmen. Also with us was a tracker named Golub, I think. Regardless, this would be the start of the hunt. Turgon was sad because the worshipers were gone. I told my friend simply: ‘We will have our vengeance, and we will bring our people home.’”

“I am no Merkitä Muistiin, so the how we found our people is not important. We traveled north, following a trail of our prey. It was a dark sight when we came upon the body of one of our people. Turgon was sad, but his sadness was the fuel for anger. Slicing my hand I swore the blood oath, as did you mother, as so too Turgon. He was apprehensive at first, but he realized the significance of this.”

“After some more travel, we came upon some littlelings. Balto was surprised and happy to see his people and they provided us aid.”

“We learned we hunted the People of the Skull. Turgon mediated to Me’sha, as did I, and the vision he received our people were held south of Yew.”

“It was dusk that we made our way to the shrine. As we approached we saw lighting strike from the sky. This was magic, foul magic, and though Turgon looked worried, the worry was soon replaced by determination. That night, we crept up on the shrine, thunderbolts of chaos churned in the sky overhead. As we got closer we saw an orc and a human in the middle of a summoning. I wanted to strike, by Belaldur put a hand on me and told me to wait. When their ritual was ended, a flash of light and booming sound introduced a purple column shooting from the ground. We then heard the voice. The voice that mocked us at the monastery.”

“That was it, we attacked.”

“While the others charged, and harassed the spell slingers, I ran and leapt into the air. The spell slingers did not know of this, and I took them by surprise. With a roar of “Me’sha, I fell into their midst. The human was surprised, and even more so, when my sword sliced the orc in half, and his body fell like a split log.”

“Your mother was thick into the battle, and she was there tearing at her enemies and aiding those who needed it. Your mother was a thing of beauty Turgon, she was a blur of grey death, using the shadows to her advantage, and harassed our enemies.”

“It was then that your namesake discovered the blessings of our goddess. Vines emerged to capture our enemies, and his club became a force of energy that struck many.”

Børæn looks at the Turgon, and the young wolf stares in understanding the story his human tells.

“The rest of the tale is simple: we heard the voice from he monastery; a tinkled creature of chaos emerged; we destroyed the summoning circle, shattered the shard; freed our people.”

Børæn sighs, it a sigh that speaks of remembrance, of age, or the weariness of fighting the battles he fought. Sensing the growing gloomy mood, the cub barks, stretches and places his front paws on his human shoulder, and licks his face. As fast as the gloomy thoughts come, they retread as Børæn laughs at the cubs playfulness.

“You’re right. Your mother would bite me if she was here. Come little one, let’s get down into the valley, see my wife and thank Me’sha for her continued guidance and grace she brings to us.”

The two, man and cub, begin the descent from the mountains and make their way into the peaceful valley.

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Following the Path
Balto's Journal

After all that mess with the Lightbringers, I made a solitary journey up to visit our goblyns, the little ones as Boraen calls them. I took a couple goats, and plenty of rations, as I was not sure they could find their own food. But when I got there, they were distinctly not interested in the food. Neither my pony nor the goats would go willingly inside the circle of the goblyn dance.

These goblyns were changing. They were very peaceful, full of the love of nature and the woods and all living things therein. Not unlike we littlings, really. But they were also physically changed. Their skin was becoming almost like bark; their eyes were covered over or just small slits in the bark. They danced around me as I walked, careful to avoid any harm, but otherwise ignoring me.

I felt a great peace with them, though, I lost myself in meditation. When, hours later, I came back to myself, the leader of the goblyns patted me on the shoulder and gave me a flower, which I twined into my hair for the ride back to Enonia, with the goats and rations that I passed on to the dispossessed followers of Tangadorin.

Belaldur, Boraen, Turgon, and I went to the market to seek out hunters who could help us track the abducted followers of Meesha. A trader sold me several furs and as we spoke, he told me to seek out Odebrandt, up at Old Fawn. Belaldur had more immediate luck, hiring a grizzled, scarred hunter named Golub.

Fergus was instilling some sense of military rigor into Willie and Josef, but they were all agog at the thousands marching up the road to Old Fawn – the 50th day of summer was the Marshall’s mustering day! Belaldur got their attention when he brought forth the fine brown cloaks he had made for the Enonia Falcons, and all five of us (Belaldur and I, Fergus, Josef and Willie) donned ours. We set out for Meesha’s shrine, to the east of Ulichton. Keld’s carpenters had done great work already. We spent a merry evening with them, though Turgon wept to see his shrine but not his congregation.

The next day, Golub found the tracks of our friends (and even a cast-off shoe!), andalso signs of much traffic along the edge of the Dark Woods. Golub told us stories from his father’s time, and also of his adventures hunting, as we followed the trail north. We camped away from the woods, rose early and set out again. Around lunchtime, we found the body of a woman Turgon recognized as one of his. Boraen, Talvi, and Turgon took blood oaths to avenge her.

Golub began to train Fergus, Belaldur, and I on tracking and observing nature’s ways. The trail, as we followed it, came near to some villages and farms, but never too close. On the fourth day of our journey, many trails crossed. With the help of the shoe Golub had found, Talvi pointed us the right way. As we entered the fens, Golub mentions how good the peat here is, for building and for fuel. I’d prefer a fire from fallen sticks, myself, but the folk here fear the woods.

Belaldur and I investigated a peat camp we see from the trail – just some local, hard-working villagers. They were surprised to see me – but I calmed them, and we chatted. These peat-cutters were from a nearby village, Pella’s Wish, which the black riders have been annoying. This would be the last harvest, before the villagers evacuate, maybe to Old Fawn.

Belaldur rides in with the others, and we camped there overnight, sharing our food and drink. Turgon spoke of Meesha’s shrine, and his friends taken by the riders, and the locals remember Meesha. The Falcons stood watches so the villagers can rest, and in the middle of the night, a force rode by on the trail, so lucky for us we had withdrawn a ways from it.

The next morning, the farmers head back to Pella’s Wish, where they will tell the mayor of the Marshal’s forces. We all gave them some gold and supplies to help them resettle – maybe at the shrine? – and I gave the ladies most of the furs I had. One’s pregnant; I don’t want her child to be cold this winter! I kept only one, for modesty and to alleviate chafing.

Two days later, we came across the body of one of the black riders with some arrows in him, at the base of a ruined watchtower. He lay atop a crumpled white flag emblazoned with Domingo’s griffon and three stars. In the distance, Beladur and I spied a stone keep, flying a similar flag.

My father told me the histories, how Domingo had led the littlelings to triumph over the dark forces. I was not looking to find other littlelings so far west – but we found fifty-some defending the keep! The keep was old and built for men but modified for us. While I spoke of our quest to Carbaugh, the leader, Belaldur brought up the rest of our force. We feasted, and the cooking was incredible! They even had a seed cake, like my dear mother would make, save they served it with wild berries where mother would use spiced apples and whipped cream. Still good, though! Boraen and his wolf were made very welcome, too; the ways of the wild men are known to these littlelings.

Carbaugh told us all about the black riders – People of the Skull, he called them. While the Domingans had garrisoned this keep and patrolled the lands around since soon after the Doom, the black riders with only came into the area early this summer, joining the orcs in Yew. Turgon receives an insight that the folk we came to rescue are not held in Yew, but south of Yew. Ishma and Falen, two of the Domingans, show us the way the next morning.

That dusk, we crept up on the shrine, thunderbolts of chaos churning the sky overhead. There is necromancy going on – an orc and a human were summoning something, using a human sacrifice. As they finished their ritual, a purple column writhed up from the ground, a cruel voice, the same as heard at the monastery, cried out, and a purple crystal flashed down into their circle.

We charged in. Littlelings all took first blood, with our sling bullets striking the priests and disrupting them; Boraen made a mighty jump and landed in the midst of our enemies, yelling MEEEESHA!, and sliced the orc priest in two. His wolf Talvi joined battle, ripping away a chunk of flesh from one of the orc guards.

Belaldur loosed an arrow, then joins the charge into the melee. Boraen by some dark magic was held, but then Turgon called up vines from the ground to immobilize the priest. Turgon’s work stirs me, and things started to click into place. But it slipped away in the confusion of battle as I took Turgon a healing draught. Fergus fell, but many of our enemies are down, too. Turgon cast a spell on his club, and mental paths opened for me, even as we finished off all our enemies and freed the captives. We didn’t want to touch the chaos crystal, so we smashed the braziers used to summon it. With the last brazier destroyed, the crystal shattered. The cruel voice denounced us and a tentacled monster appeared.

My path was now clear – cast faerie fire on the monster, become a druid, fight for life against those who would defile it. We quickly dispatched this last foe, and the world breathed easier. We took little from the bodies – the red eye symbol from the orc priest, a purple/gold triskelion symbol from the human, and a sample of the crystal. Heading back to the Domingan Keep, we tried recruiting our erstwhile allies to the Falcons, but Isma says the traditions they uphold prevent it and Kalen says they have to protect the writings of Domingo, which I’ll want to look over.

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The Rot in the Light
The Chronicle of Børæn

It is the early days of summer.

The Valley of the Wolf is is alive with activity. The fields are being worked, the hunters and fishers return with their bounty. Everything is at peace, and praise the goddess Me’sha for her gifts.

As Orpo, the Merkitä Muistiin, makes his way through the valley, he follows the road Børæn made his first priority when moving the tribe here. This road grew to many, and together now allow for the flow of people and goods throughout the valley, as well as the two neighboring valleys the Wolf Tribe hold. As always Orpo’s heart warms to how the boy he considers his son, has grown to be who he is.

Walking in silence, Orpo looks around and reflects on the peace he travels through. The tribe works with a purpose, and this purpose is one in synch with the land. Framing, brewing, and even the crafts of the tribes have brought much to the Wolf. Children learn and they are allowed to be children in the safety of the valley. Still, despite all appearances, the Wolf is ready. The sounds of the forge drift through the air, as does the steady thunk of arrow striking target. The Wolf may look tame, but that is only appearance. The Wolf is always ready to strike and the Wolf never tamed.

The road takes him to his destination: a meadow. This is no ordinary meadow, it is the one the Peikko (goblin) now live in commune with their goddess. This change astounds the Merkitä Muistiin. In days not so distant, this field would be littered with the bodies of Peikko and the Wolf. The beauty and tranquility of this place would be shattered as blood seeped into the earth, and the broken bodies left for the crow’s meal.

Now the Peikko are part of the Wolf, and are the worshiper’s of Me’sha. The “little ones” as Børæn calls them, has worked to bring more to the goddess, and though the Peikko do not number many, the group here carry on the work, worship the shared goddess, and are a strong part of the tribe.

Børæn stands with them, and whatever worship they were doing is over. Orpo watches as each goblin pays their respect to Børæn, and in return Børæn, pays them his respect. Some spend a few minuets talking to the man, that once, would have buried a axe in their head. Strongly, the man and Peikko share a laugh, share a few words, or offer respect. Even Talvi, when she is not busy stalking her cub, seems to show a strange sense of respect and kindness to the “little ones.” As the last of the Peikko depart, Orpo approaches his pupil.

“You should join us next time Merkitä Muistiin, this is lore that is as important as the battles we have fought. Maybe I should collect this lore for you!” Børæn voice rumbles.

“So you are now Merkitä Muistiin pup? That ego you have knows no bounds. We all know it is your wife who is the real mind driving that body! Besides your head is as empty as your drinking horn if you think you can serve as Merkitä Muistiin!”

He tries to show his anger, but Børæn laughs, a booming laugh, and with him Orpo joins him.

They embrace, not as fellow warriors, but as father and son. Standing next to each other, the two stand in silence as they Talvi and her cub run through the grasses, and stalking one another. Talvi is old and her fur is more white than grey. Her cub, who is as black as the night will carry on her legacy.

“Does he have a name?” Orpo quietly asks.

“Turgon,” Børæn replies simply.

“Why that one?”

Børæn pauses, and Orpo sees sadness cloud the face of the man. It is a sadness that he rarely shows, and it is a side of Børæn only a few know that exists.

“Turgon was the one, besides yourself, who showed me a different way. It was he who led me to Me’sha’s grace. It was he who taught me lessons I did not know I needed. Turgon was a great chieftain. Not a chieftain of warriors, but a chieftain who showed all who would listen, a different way. Even if he sometimes chaffed at that, he new the duty he held.”

“Where I am, and always will be, Me’sha’s rage, he was her voice. At no other time in my life did your words ring more true: Ber er hver að baki nema sér bróður eigi (One’s back is vulnerable, unless one has a brother.) He was my mentor, he was my teacher, and he was, and always will be my brother.”

“A few weeks ago you asked me about the battle of Irecia. I grew angry with you, and I am sorry. Let me tell you why I was angry, maybe then you will understand why that event still is a dagger in my heart. After the utter failure of making any positive effect on Irecia…”

“But you rescued the men my boy. Surely you can see that the deed was a good one?” Interrupted Orpo who braced himself for Børæn’s outburst. Instead he was surprised by the clam nature of the man he often still saw as a boy.

“I know… Let me tell you tell you more, and then you can see why my anger is still there…"

“After Irecia, my companions and I split apart to take care of our own matters. I traveled to Me’sha’s shrine and longed for the peace that place brought me, and still brings me. When Talvi and I arrived, the peace was shattered. Turgon and the worshipers were gone. Gone to were the little ones. My adopted tribe was missing, and the shrine looked as an attempt was made to destroy it."

“This is why the events of Irecia still are a dagger in my heart. I failed my adopted tribe, and if I was there, if Talvi was there, we could have prevented it. I still blame myself for Turgon’s and my adopted tribe’s abduction. I will live with this shame till my body is returned to the land.”

A quiet then settles, and out of no where a breeze stirs the grasses. It dances across the grasses, and then surrounds the two men, as if it is a caress. The breeze is a gentle one. It caresses. It soothes. It carries the scents of summer, as well as the touch of forgiveness. Looking up at Børæn, Orpo sees no anger but in place a peaceful calm.

“We decided that these Black and White cloaks were the ones behind the abduction. As is typical with the soft ones in the south, we had to “discus” matters. The details are not important, just that we learned of a rot festering in the heart of the Church of the Light.” At mentioning of the Church of the Light, Børæn spits. Even now, many years after the events, he is angry at the so called ‘Light’."

“Traveling south, we learned that indeed this so called religion of peace, was in fact a den of lies, deceit and evil. The church * spit * supported these Lightbringers, and it was they who abducted Turgon and my adopted tribe."

“We tracked down a location of a gathering of these White Cloaks. We noticed that one of them was the apparent leader, and when I saw him, Belàldur had all he could do to stop me from rushing in right then. So I waited and my rage grew.”

Orpo looks at Børæn and sees the look he has seen many times: being lost in his remembrance. It is if, after all these years, he still feels he is there now.

“As soon as the coward left, I looked to Talvi and she knew. It was time to hunt. Kicking my horse, we took to the wind and raced to capture our prey. Some of my companions followed, but I did not stop. All Talvi and I cared about was delivering Me’sha’s rage upon our prey."

traitor.png “After about two hours, we caught up to him. How I am still not sure, one minute he was on his horse, the next he was on the ground. It made no difference, I leaped from my saddle and grappled the man. He struggled, but soon Lohikäärme Hammas was in hand, as my companions arrived during my questioning. Yes, before you asked, I did not question him in the ways of the Wolf. I showed restraint. I only hobbled him, and broke he shoulders. It is amazing what it takes to break someone who feels they are strong. We learned what we needed, and I carved into his chest “Traitor” in the runes of our people.”

“Learning from the coward of a farmhouse that Turgon was being kept, we made haste to there. Me’sha’s rage was still with me, and we rode with her as the wind pushed us on.”

“The details of what went next is not important. Swords sliced, magic was flung, and blood flowed. I found Turgon, near death’s door, but it was due to the aid of Grel, who up until then I thought was like a Pop-in-Jay (all sound no will). Turgon lived, still weak, but he lived.”

As if on cure, the wolf cub runs up to Børæn barking in pleasure. In a blur, Børæn, grabs the cub and whispers to the young one. Their is happiness here. Børæn’s hardness, softens as the cub licks his face. Their is a tenderness as well s he rubs the cub’s ears.

“There is more to this tale Merkitä Muistiin, but that can wait. The sun is setting, and you know the queen is not happy if I am late.”

Orpo chuckles at the dichotomy that is Børæn. “Go. Go. We can talk again.”

Orpo watches as Børæn whistles for Talvi and gently places Turgon to the ground. The three head down the roading to the village and the hearth of Børæn’s lodge. In their wake, Orpo feels a slight breeze stir the air agian. It gently touches his cheek. Like a dream, the breeze leaves and rustles the grasses lining the road Børæn walks, and as if it was his companion, it blows gently round him in harmony as he walks.

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How did I get involved in heresy?
Balto's Journal

Well, that was a nice little mess. I don’t get this whole religion thing, but these humans are consumed over who worships and how.

Boraen has sworn an oath of vengeance on – among others – the white-cloaks and black-cloaks who attacked Meesha’s shrine near Ulichton, driving away the goblyns rescued from the monastery and seizing the humans. The goblyns turned up safe – and, says Borean, druidic! – a little ways off. If like littlelings, these goblyns have an affinity for nature, perhaps I could get them to plant a few apple trees in memory of my father….

But I digress. Grel is desperate to discover who these Lightbringers in white cloaks are, who are assaulting the adherents of Tangadorin. Several of his flock have been badly beaten and their outlying farms fired.

It turns out there is another god being worshiped, Vaneer, the brother of Meesha. No word on whether any of this flock are being bothered, but lets lump these guys in with the Meeshans for now.

(And let’s not forget that fool Wikton and his god, that enlivened our last trip south!)

Mazlor is aghast that anyone would think the Light should be spread so militantly – though he knows there are many to the south who are more aggressive in putting down non-Light worship. His superior, Averin, and he made sure there were no Lightbringers in the Temple, so we tried to figure out where they were from. All signs pointed south, so we travelled back along the road to Reynalt’s fort. There, we got intelligence that led us to the leader of the Lightbringers, and we followed him to a farmhouse where he stopped, went in, and rode off again. We split the party and Boarean, Talvi, Mazlor, Itsy, and Belaldur followed the leader.

Sally, Fergus, Willie, Josef, Pyria, and I waited and followed the second man to leave the farmhouse. He led us to the gathering place, where seven other Lightbringers were waiting in a barn. Pyria distracted them while Sally quickly cast sleep, and we bound them all. Before we could leave, though, the daughter of the farmer in whose barn we were came looking for her father. Sally let the child in the barn, and cast Remove Fear – all that did was raise the volume on her outrage! I stepped up and gagged and bound her, but left a gold piece as an apology. Well, I wrote an apology, too, but it was in ancient Dwarfish, to try to cover our tracks.

Our parties met back at the Lightbringer leader’s farm. The other party had caught and, it appeared, tortured the man. All the worshippers – Tangadorin, Meeshan, Lightish – seemed OK with this, though maybe Grel was a bit green. We took our prisoners to the Keep so the Marshal could deal with the laws broken. We also took their horses.

This leader, named Keanax, said he took his orders from higher up the heirarchy than Mazlor or Averin. So great, now we have the worshipers of the Light, and Lite worshipers? What’s next, the People’s Front of Enonia? Looks like a nice little fight brewing over heresy. Still, I tried to focus on our next task – the rescue of Turgen from a Lightbringer cell holed up on a farm near Draycott. Despite some sort of clumsy trap that caught both Willie and Belaldur, we did well. I did a classic backstab on one guard who never saw me coming! But that was the only death. After Mazlor imposed his will upon the leader, the rest surrendered. Grel healed Turgen’s injuries, for which Turgen gave thanks to Meesha. Everyone except Grel got a chuckle over that. We took them all back to the Marshal for trial.

I guess next up, we look at the black cloaks? I’m getting too old for this!

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Bringing the Lightbringers to Justice!
Grel’s report

We left town on the 45th day of summer. We had some heated discussions on which direction we should go to root out these criminals. Boraen had information that his people had been taken both North and South. After talking with the Marshall, it seemed that to the North are the Black Brotherhood. The servants of the Dark Ones who had mocked us outside the Monastery. He informed us that there were probably 12 companies of them, too many for us to deal with.
When talking to Averin, the opposition in Steltin and the hard line of Dame Orden had come up. I recalled how Jorann’s offer to come and help had been repulsed. Could they be the source of the Lightbringers, or just giving aid?
We decided south would be the best plan. We spoke with Raynauld, he did not have any information. We spent some time in the taverns talking to people about happenings. My companions did not get any good information. However, there was one creepy guy who seemed a little too sweet on me for my comfort, however, I held back my revulsion and drank and spoke with him. He had some information! A friend of his had clammed up after talking about a work duty. After another drink, he told me that he lived on a farm a 15 min walk outside of Deltin. Another drink and I learnt his name, Tyalen., and
We continued to Deltin. There we spent the night decided to head over to the farm the next day. Tangadorin was with us! We were observing the farm, hoping to learn something when a rider rode up, went inside and shortly after, rode off.
I knew immediately that this was the organizer who we needed to question! The party split up. I rode after Boraen, with Mazlor, Itsy and Beladur at my side. Sally stayed behind with Balto, Fergus, Pyria and the two farm hands.
We chased him for two hours without gaining any ground. The sun was beginning to set, there was only one hour of light left! I called upon Tangadorin to guide my hand and slowed my steed to take a couple shots at his horse. I had to stop or slow that horse so that we could catch him! He had the answers we needed! Tangadorin was with me, for both shots hit. My first shot did little damage, but clearly Tangadorin touched the second arrow, for it went completely through the horse! The rider tumbled off the dead horse, and I knew he was ours!
Boraen lept off his horse to grapple the man. Beladur wanted to throw his net, but there was no need. Boraen had the man pinned in no time. Boraen questioned the man. It was hard to watch, but the Marshall had told him that he could do as he must, just to bring him back alive and able to answer questions, so I reminded myself of his crimes and held my piece.
He admitted to having taken Turgin and gave Boraen directions. He had some magical leather armor, which I felt would be good for the elf, he seemed to like it. We returned to the farmhouse with our prisoner. There we found our companions had captured 8 of the villains! A good day indeed!
We took them all to the Marshall’s keep and handed them over for trial. The marshall questioned them and found them guilty. The most troubling thing was that the head villain, Keanax, claimed that his orders came straight from the high holy and the flames.
I sincerely hope that this is not true, as it would be very bad for us.
The next day we followed Boraen to rescue Turgin. We found the farm where he was being held and planned an assault. Things did not go quite as planned. Balto backstabbed one guard and killed him, but Beladur failed to go unnoticed and engaged the second guard. He called for help, and two men came from each house, plus a swordswoman who charged Boraen. Mazlor held her and the men surrendered. We took them all back to the Marhall for trial!

I do not know if we have cleared the area of the Lightbringers, but we should have at least given them a pause. Hopefully, the Marshall will get information from them and make an example of them!

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The rescue of Yinnivax
Grel’s report

It was the 34th day of summer, the Marshall had put Capt. Pellin and his 100 cavalry men under our command to rescue Sir Yinnivax. He had stressed to us that he needed those men free, but Sir Yinnivax’s rescue was paramount, he was need for the Duke plans.

So we set out to rescue sir Yinnivax, the company consisted of myself, Boraen, Ragar, Beladur, Pyria, Balto, Fergus and Ostlen. We had racked our brains trying to plan the rescue. The best we could come up with was a full assault using fire to divert them.

While traveling the scouts encountered a couple dire wolves, but they dealt with them without too much damage. Ragar and a couple scouts were hurt. One of the scouts, by the name of Narvy, was badly hurt I used the healing touch of Tangadorin upon him and he was mightily impressed! I spent a good bit of my traveling time telling him of the wonders of Tangadorin. He has since become a true believer and has promised to come to hear our services soon.

We reached the city without much other trouble. The three rouges Balto, Beladur and Ostlen chose to sneak up to the city so that Balto could get in and explain the plan to Sir Yinnivax and deliver the healing potions to allow the wounded to be mobile.

Beladur ended up distracting the orcs while Ostlen and Balto scaled the wall. The, while he engaged them the archers on the wall distracted them, allowing beladur to kill one and run the other off. He then joined his fellows in the keep, where they told Sir Yinnivax our plan.

At Midnight we began our assault! One company of calvalry charged down the path, Two companies attacked towards the orc commander. My fellows and I started it off by throwing fire off to the side of the road and the archers in the keep started another near the commander.

The battle went even better than we could have hoped! My friends and I killed 10 of the Orc cavalry that were charging the cavalry headed down the middle, they broke and ran!
The archers killed 10 orc infantry and they ran too!

The orc archers killed a unit of our cavalry coming down the center and broke them.

We retaliated by killing some archers and the other cavalry unit both fled!! Within a few minutes the field was ours as the Orc commander ran off the field calling for reinforcements.

We mounted Yinnivax’s men and charged off the field victorious!!

We decided that we were too large a force to go unnoticed, so we had Capt. Pellin give Yinnivax’s men the mounts and have them flee back to the fort while we headed to the villa. We were sure that they would follow us.

We saw no sign of them, and when we reached the villa it became apparent that the orcs had gone after Yinnivax instead. My Friends and I headed back to Enonia to make sure that he had made it safe. All was well, Yinnivax was pursued, but made it safe!

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Rescue from Irecia's North Keep!
Balto's Journal

I had been away with Fergus when the first rescue attempt was made, to bring Ynnivax and his men and the King’s men out of Irecia’s North Keep. That had not gone well, as too few men had been brought. But it brought back some intelligence, and a plan was hatched to save them. Fergus and I, and our newly-equipped farmboys-turned-fighters Willie and Josef, mustered with the rest of the Marshal’s men, commanded by Captain Pellen. All told, there were well over a hundred of those men, plus the group I rode with: Ostlen, Fergus, Grel, Boraen and Talvi his wolf, Ragar, and Pyria.

Once out of town, Ragar led the scouts ahead to screen us. Around midday, Talvi began to fret and whine. Boraen said there is some danger to us, and a scout rode back to tell Pellen to be cautious, as there was someone or something big stalking us. Suddenly, two dire wolves charged at the scouts!

Ragar was able to get off a couple shots with his bow, and hits one before being bitten himself. Ragar, with the help of one scout, dispatched the first dire wolf. One of the scouts was pulled from his horse by the second beast. That one is surrounded and slain by the rangers as we galloped up. Boraen and Grel bind up our injured, and Grel lays his hands on the worst-afflicted scout, name of Narvey, who he then tells all about the wonders of his deity Tangadorin. Meanwhile, Borean hacks the head from one of the dire wolf carcasses. We ride on until dusk, set up camp, and pass an restful night.

The following day, we made for an abandoned village to the north of Irecia. We could see the gleaming white towers of Irecia from the village. Grel and Narvey started singing the praises of Tangadorin as I emptied my pack and filled it with as many healing potions as I could fit in. Joined by Ostlen and Belaldur, I made for the North Keep, following Beladur’s lead.

Ostlen and I make the wall as Belaldur makes some noise to attract the attention of two orcs nearby. Men appear atop the wall above us as we climb and shoot fire arrows behind the orcs to distract and dismay them, and as they fled, Belaldur killed one. Ostlen reassured the soldiers inside that we are a rescue party, and I clambered over the wall with the healing draughts. Belaldur joined us inside, and we went among the injured and bring them back to fighting strength. Ostlen, meanwhile, has explained the rescue plan to Ynnivax, and we rested until midnight.

The rest of our party set a brush fire to the east of the road at midnight, and at that the archers in the keep shoot arrows out to set another the the west of the fortifications. The Marshal’s men come onto the field to confront the besieging orcs, and the battle largely goes in our favor. I think some of our rescue cavalry fled the field, but the fire and confusion made it hard to tell, and we managed to get all 80 of the men we rescued back to the rally point for a quick meal.

Ynnivax was concerned that the orc chief was able to withdraw in good order, and we knew pursuit would not be long in coming.So we split the party and set off within the hour, sending the rescued men with an escort back to the fort on the site of the old Dalewoods Inn. The rest of us made our way north, leaving a trail to draw pursuit. It wasn’t to be, though – we never saw pursuit, and when we made it to the villa where more men and supplies awaited us, we learned the orcs had gone after Ynnivax. Still, he’d a good enough start that we trusted he made it to safety, and we fell into an exhausted sleep.

Next day, we made our way back to the fort, where Ynnivax thanked us and filled us in as best he could. Irecia seems a right hellhole, but Boraen swears a blood oath to go clean it out. Our Duke is planning a push to capture Yew and the Marshal will capture Notchland Keep, plus Ynnivax is concerned the trolls are causing problems in the south, so that may have to take a back seat. Well, and who knows how many blood oaths Borean has outstanding?

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