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- Journal of Xandos Coldcreek
15th day of Eleint, Year xxxx+1.
It has been more than two weeks since our return to trinity. Since then, I didnt have much success in my investigation. I expected it to be hard to find them, but I didnt expect to find absolutely no signs of the cult in trinity. I have no other choice but to stay low and wait for them to reveal themselves. Ill keep doing my duties as trinity guard, but I also will keep my eyes and ears open for any cult activity around me.
Today I have met two more members of our squad.
One of them was a woman I heard so much about. Winter. Just as rumours say, she seems to be not all there. Sometimes you even start thinking that her place is in some madhouse, chained and under constant watch. But on today's mission she has proven herself as valuable companion. She must be one of those people, who show their true amazing selves, when it really counts.
Second one was a dragonborn. A wizard from arcane society. I didnt have much time to evaluate him properly today, but just for being dragonborn, I can probably give him more trust than most. They know the threat Tchazzar presents firsthand. Their race has been enslaved by dragons for who knows how many centuries, before they rebelled. As far as I know, you can rarely find a race that hates dragons more than them. There is one suspicious thing he said today...but I must have misheard or misunderstood him, there is no way a dragonborn would fancy becoming a dragon, after all they went through...it is very unlikely. I might need to ask him about it next time...Would have to be extremely careful not to offend him.
Now, about todays mission, boss told us to go north and investigate barbarian tribes in shadowdale. From what we have seen from our previous mission, some barbarian tribes have joined Tchazzar army. And boss says, that there have been rumours about shadowdale tribes gathering together. We had to investigate the rumours and, in worst case, see if we can do anything about it.
Once we arrived to shadowdale, we were lucky to meet patrol guards, who were kind enough to point us in the direction of the nearby "barbarian" camp. To be fair, they werent that kind, more angry, since this camp has been their fort. That this tribe decided to take over and occupy. We promised to try and persuade barbarians to return this fort back to its owners. Obviously, our main mission would take a top priority.
"Barbarians"....apparently, have been a mix of different breed of giants. There were hill giants, mountain giants, frost giants, trolls, weird two headed trolls...and probably more. I usually didnt ask their proper pronouns, when our band was hired to clear their nests.
This time though, our mission was not to clear the nest, but to investigate. So, even though some of my companions were ready to attack, I calmed them down and explained, that the secret of living a long life in our trade, is to only fight when there is no other choices left. This time, words might bring better results, than swords. Luckily, I was right, Giants have been open to dialogue and have been way friendlier, than you would expect from their kind. Honestly, at one moment, I was ready to activate my invisibility cloak and to run at full speed of my aging body. But then Giant just laughed and invited us in. Another secret that I didnt share with my companions, you have to be lucky. And gray hair in my red beard as a proof, I am lucky.
One thing about luck tho...you always survive, but people around you? Usually dont. And you are often left alone on the bloody battlefield, walking and looking for survivors...
Anyway...lets focus on the mission....whats next? We have met with giants leader. Not sure what kind of a giant he was, but his name was Ka-to, or Ka-ta....one of those is his dead father tho. Preeeettty sure it was Ka-to tho.
He told us, that his tribe is one of the last ones, who have not been recruited by Tchazzar, most of them have to bow to this dragons power and join his army, those who dont, usually dont survive. With the help of Winter, we were able to persuade him to give Trinity a chance....
We kinda overstepped our authority, telling him, that trinity would be happy, if Giants join our alliance against Tchazzar. Honestly, knowing how uptight nobles can be, I have my doubts, but in worst case, we would at least prevent their alliance with Tchazzar, if even half of what I read about Tchazzar is true, he wouldnt give giants a second chance. Lets just hope that we wouldnt have to betray these friendly giants expectation.
Now, about the chance: Giants would let us join their feast and debate against Tchazzars emissary, whether Giants should join Tchazzar or trinity.
Before feast began, we helped giants in gathering firewood and killed a weird cow. My companions claim that this cow was demonic, but for all I saw, Wizard was just taunting a poor animal, until it went crazy. I dont know That much about dragonborn culture, maybe they hate cows or smth. Not that I care. As long as he hates dragons at least half as much, we would be fine.
Firewood they required was specific too. There was a treant hiding in their fort, they wanted us to find and chop it for firewood. With my elemental friends it wasnt a hard task. For elements, treants and trees are as different as humans and giants. The roots, the movements of the branches, it gave it away instantly. They even told me, that this exact tree is bad for some reason. Never had to fight a tree in my life before. Monsters yes, undead yes, even humans...yes. But trees? Thats new.
When I pointed out a tree, Morgiana went all angry and told me to not attack it and then even pretended that it wasnt a right tree and told us to look elsewhere. Naive girl...she is hundred years to young to fool dear old me. Dont know what went into her head but that tree definitely was the right one. First, I hardened the soil, so roots would get stuck, and then I shot a weak lightning at it, just to test it out. Just as I thought, tree tried to uproot itself and face appeared on it too. So thats what a treant is.
Morgiana went all hysterical and told me to stop hurting the tree. And Winter told me to stop too. They later explained to me, that treants are sentient, just like us humans, and that I shouldnt hurt an innocent just because giants asked me to.
I was a little surprised that my Morgiana can speak with trees, never seen her do it before, but to be honest, I wasnt always there for her, when she was growing up, and looks like there is some story to her, that I have yet to learn. It did tick me in the wrong way thought, that she didnt trust me so much, that she decided to lie to me. I might need to have a talk with her later.
Now, to cut it short, we had some back and forth, negotiations broke out, and tree gave away a place where it was hiding its dead branches. It should be sufficient to satisfy the giants. From what I have learned in our "negotiations". This tree is a jerk, who harms other trees, but, honestly, I lost interest at this point, It is not my place to involve myself into forest politics, I have a bigger fish to catch. We got what we needed, and as I said before, if you can avoid a fight - do it. Just in case, we put up a show of fighting a fake tree, I used elements to fake other tree moving and pretending to be a treant. Some giants even joined in the "fight".
Ka-to was happy with how preparations were going and, after some rest, we all partake in the feast.
And then Herald of Tchazzar arrived, he was a lizardman, a very proud one at that. In our "word fight", thats how giants called it, we were throwing arguments back and forth, unveiling Tchazzars darkness and vileness and Lizards lies and threats from his side. But deciding factor was Morgiana, while we were talking, she sneaked outside of the fort and found out, that Lizard has prepared an ambush, in case negotiations wasnt satisfactory. If Giants were to reject his offer, Herald of Tchazzar was prepared to send his barbarians to slaughter the giants. She subtly informed Ka-To about it, in response, he angrily confronted the lizard and personally executed him for his lies. At this point, all hells broke through. Barbarians were everywhere, attacking both us and giants indiscriminately, luckily, together, we were able to round up and defeat them. At this point, Giants stance was clear. They wouldnt join Tchazzar no matter what. Lets just hope trinity would accept this alliance. Otherwise, those giants would be outnumbered and swiftly murdered by the dragons army.
On our way back, we warned shadowdale guards to not attack the giants for now, that they might have their fort back. After all, we if our authorities agree, we would have to find a proper place near trinity for giants, so we can fight together in case Tchazzar attacks.
Getting tired, this was a long day. And longer day awaits, I bet, dealing with trinity authorities would be much more pain, than dealing with friendly giants....Need to get as much sleep as I can.
- Posts: 67
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- Just on the edges of Elvendar Forest lies a pool within a small clearing a fair way off the common trails hidden from sight by the thick tree growth. It formed when waters from a wide stream cascaded lightly over a ledge on the side of a hill over many decades. This location, a pristine and almost unspoiled natural treasure that is so far untouched by the raging war further in betwixt elf and orc, is marred only by a neatly folded, cheap and threadbare dress laid out near the pool's edge. Were you to move closer you'd see sitting on a smooth rock under the gentle waterfall a young girl clad only in a light, thin open backed shift with her legs crossed under her and hands resting palm up atop her knees. The girl bares old scars, both on her wrists and ankles and as vicious whip mark all over her back, forever marring her once modestely beautiful looks. She remains closed to the world around her as she slowly breaths in and out seeking a clamness, her vibrant read hair pasted close to her skin as the waters soak her through, though a frown quickly marrs her brow and her cheeks flush red as she starts to shift about restlessly....
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Morgiana sighs and gets up, brushing her damp hair out of her eyes over her lightly pointed ears. Its no good. She will not be able to use meditative methods of self-cultivation today. No matter what she does she can't clear her mind of her embarasment yesterday. Not only did she end up completely naked bar her dudou and loincloth, in front of four men and a large group of devils no less, in shock she paniced at that time too. To make matter worse rather than returning from the hellscape back into the abandoned graveyard they popped out smack bang in the middle of the town square, oposite the tavern no less. Her eartips continue to burn as crimson as her hair at the memory of the drunken cat calls from the C&B patrons. The rumours about the "streaker" have already spread to Westside and the docks district but thankfully the alcohol, the bush she dove in and Grampie Gin's invisibility spell left the descriptions of her rather vague. Nevertheless she won't be spending much time in town for a while. Hopping off the rock and wading to the poolside, she clambers out and wrings out her hair, doffing her new full length shift she got with the second hand dress to wring it out too. A rustle in the bushes next to the pool's edge has her eyes snap up searching and she tenses, but when nothing appears she writes it off as small game disturbed by her leaving the pool. Nevertheless she dresses quickly and lights with flint and tinder the small banked fire she prepared earlier to take off the chill, settling in to skin and otherwise prepare the rabbit that was previously hanging from a tree outside the clearing her snares managed to trap today, its neck already snapped mercifuly when she untangled it this morning. When done, she cleans herself of blood with water she collected just before she tried to meditate from a pot and after a brief hesitation discards the contents outside the clearing following some unknown instinct that this place should be left as clean as she found it. After refilling the empty pot with a light stew of rabbit, wild mushrooms and nuts and stuffing the leftover rabbit with herbs and setting it to dry into jerky beside the stew she resumes her cultivation excercises. If she cannot meditate, she may as well work on her Qi with martial qigong. Strapping a few heavy rocks to her arms and legs with strips of cloth and she moves into various kata: slow movements, followed by powerful leaps and spin kicks. Fading into a haze of aching bones and muscles, she looses herself in her practices.
Eventually exhausted, she unbinds the rocks and thinks over how things stand while she packs away the jerky and eats dinner. The new lands she now resides in are comparitively nice. A lack of warring city states made her foster pappa's job as a mercenary less profitable but there was a distinct lack of slavery here... well except in nearby Atlantis. Sadly the dragon cult has already arisen seeking to ruin her new home. In fact... it arose far, far too fast she feels. Thinking back to the statements made by the unwitting dragon-wakers she remebers the words of the witch Yurei. She spoke of a vision of a shadowy woman guiding her friend Dorian into his fall. She postulated she believed it to be Shar, though she paid it little heed at the time as (in her own words) if people commit no crimes they are free to worship whomever they please. She was herself eldritch of sorts and her twin was a Pale Mistress after all, and both defend Trinity in their own way even actively supporting the local orphanage which was something Morgiana herself greatly admired them for. As she gathers up the rocks she had been using as weights and starts assembling them into a small shrine at the water's edge she thinks it over... Could the goddess have orchestrated Dorian's fall and Tchazzar's escape, and set up the cults in advance ready to sow chaos using him as a figurehead? To what end? Shar does control the Shadowfell where he was imprisoned after all. The timing of the formation of cults was too soon too. In fact she sees no active involvement of Tchazzar localy at this time... rather things are being done in his name, while the dragon himself seems to have rapidly flown to Chessenta and burnt her family. Her gut wrenches as she recalls the many burnt bodies she found when she got home back then. To be honest, the loss of her rediculously expensive dress was embarasing, and the loss of her purse with it too was anoying but the worst part was the dress had been a gift from one of her foster mammas Xin Laoh. The kindly camp follower had run the brothel tents and the short, foreign woman from the far east had been the person to tech her self defense and cultivation and the unique things that are special to ladies such as carrying babies, herbs to take to prevent them and how to deal with moon flowering and the pains it causes. The dress had been made by all the brothel women, the embrodery done by Xin herself and given to the band's cleric and wizards to enchant with techings of eastern wisdom and the ability to turn asside blows I was too slow to avoid and to unobservant to see coming. Shaking off her sadness she finishes up her shrine and thinks back on the topic of dragons. The closest thing she's seen to a dragon here is some lesser wild "sand dragons" and Grampie Gin. Speaking of Gin, pappa never asked back about gramps so she's had no time to tell him he had an unhappy past of some kind and he's emitting cold like some kind of aura. Is that a dragonborn thing? Morgiana shrugs and finishes her shrine. Lighting some incense sticks she claps her hands together and offers up a prayer to Illmater, and the local spirits of the pool glade. After her prayers, she leaves the bottle of water she took from the elemental waters in the fey realms in the offering hollow at its base and she whispers her thanks once more to the spirits, packs up and leaves.
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The departing girl did not see the pale feminine hand reach out of the bushes on the pool shoreline. The one that moved before. It picks up the offering, and slips silently under the waters, with a whisper "Gentle child, come again..."
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