Last Stand of the 5th Crusade

Tirq Near Death On The Pumice Dusted Ground

In Tirq’s Head

I don’t know if I am in this red dim light coming to face Iommedea, but I fear she will torment me for losing sight of her alighted trophy, the one all her followers are sworn in one way or another to protect. So that they can be protected. But we struggle now, and we jumped the hilt when a demon guardian tried to actually dual in an honorable and knightly fashion! I swear I did not believe he would hold his bargain, but one thing is certain, that he did warn us if we did not hold ours. And so he held that bargain for sure! This is why if I do not wake again, and maybe Lotte, even Barca who too went in and out of death madness squirming on the floor, we would all be glad our friends are closer to attempting more turning from the horrid cave. We have learned and I am still glad at least the others are closer to stopping as Kyrk wished upon the mechanisms of turning Irabeth. Somehow with these thoughts as if in fact I am still alive ( if thats what it means to still breath in this hell wound ) then I barely have enough but have faith the sword is still in reach by myself and Ratla amongst this loyal group of company to help get back on the path to free it. I hear silence now and feel very warm from fire or from hard gained wisdom.

View
Wasting time or saving the world...?
Kyrk's Journal 16

Riva’s readings, intuition, and intelligence have guided us accurately many times since we left Promise, and yet I have so much dread about her latest recommendation for our next actions.

We only just made a huge show of leaving Drezen after trying to inspire the soldiers, convince them and Colonel Turner of our conviction and potential, and promising to return next with their dear commander Irabeth. Now we slink back after mere hours in order to rest within Drezen? What will they think? What will they do? This could be riskier psychologically than leaving them open to the imminent attack Riva fears will come? I imagine she’d argue that dead is worse than demoralized. And she is probably right.

But if stopping the demonic conversion of Irabeth is a matter of hours, then any delay could prove fatal to her soul and to the 5th Crusade — perhaps even more so than the loss of the Sword of Valor? I don’t know… Riva clearly believes that The Sword of Valor and Drezen are more important than Irabeth’s soul. And, if the crusaders remain alive and Drezen holds due to our delaying, than perhaps they will summon the strength to fight their former leader and the Crusade will continue. It just seems to me, though, that achieving coerced demonic conversions is a weapon more noteworthy than even the fact of Drezen falling. In my gut — which is, admittedly, a strange place for me to be placing my decision-making — I feel like ending Irabeth’s and all future conversions by destroying the mechanism for it, is a more important goal than even guarding Drezen.

Put it this way, if Drezen were to fall and the current crusaders to die or scatter, but we both rescue Irabeth and eliminate the potential for forced conversions, we might be able to rally just as big an army of new soldiers, with Queen Galfrey’s help, of course. Would that be the 6th Crusade or just a reformation of the 5th, I don’t know, but does the long-term battle of the Worldwound hinge more on Drezen’s occupants than it does on the power over humanity’s souls?

Riva has made a convincing case that we can thread the needle of caution, making our way quickly back to Drezen to assess and rest, relying perhaps on Arushalae’s scouting to gauge the time constraints of delaying. But I fear that we will succumb to the lure of staying longer if there are incursions into Drezen by hostile forces while we are there. Are we prepared to leave immediately if Drezen is attacked but our information suggests we must do so in order to save Irabeth? How will we know which threat is greater? When will Riva be satisfied that it is safe to leave Drezen, and will that be too late for the larger battle?

We soon face Vorimeraak the Roc of supposedly mythic power in charge of the Azverindus rite of conversion, and I feel like I must devote all my energies and intellect to crafting a plan of attack. Gods willing, Arushalae will get us information that helps and not find herself drawn back to an evil path by proximity to such powerful evil magic. I should have brought up that possibility to my companions in making my argument for sallying forth more quickly. I do fear that Arushalae’s path of redemption could be make more difficult or even impossible by sending her to the Molten Scar. If she is captured, how easily would Vorimeraak find it to bring our succubus ally back into the fold? I suspect the Nahyndrian crystals and the Rite would be too much power for her to resist. We cannot lose her to the dark side so soon after the dissolution of the Heroes of Kenebres and the capture of Irabeth!

If ever the stakes felt high by the choices we faced, it seems they are nearly at a zenith, with equally high and fatal falls on either side of that choice.

If we fall, or if I die, I hope this journal finds its way back to my parents so they will understand some of what we faced and what I tried to do so far away from home. I suppose it’s selfish of me to want recognition and appreciation for the attempt when anything short of success could mean doom for all of Golarion, and yet I am of humanity born, and subject to the frailty of ego as much as any mortal. I accept that, and I hope that those who linger after me do as well. I love you all.

View
Riva: The Foreign Trader
16th of Neth, west of Drezen

The_Foreign_Trader.jpg

It is late afternoon, an hour west of Drezen, past the demon army. The party has stopped at a copse of twisted trees and briars, where they tied the summoned horses and Kyrk cast rope trick. Though there are about three hours of daylight remaining, everyone is exhausted. For Locke, Barca, Kyrk, and Riva, last night was lost as they traveled the plane of shadow. Tirq is worse still, having fought demons throughout the night and morning.

Riva has kept silent for the journey so far. After unrolling her bedroll on the black, granite-like floor of the rope trick’s interior, she sits down and takes out her Harrow deck. She shuffles once, cuts the deck, and draws a single card. Holding it before her, she recites in a flat voice:

The Foreign Trader is the card of spies and peddlers alike. Any who trade in information are subject to this card’s influence. A bargain made under this card’s auspice always concludes true, but the ramifications of the pact might be shocking for those who do not understand its implications.

She looks up, now addressing the party:

I believe that we have made a terrible mistake.

We’ve bargained that we can reach Irabeth in time to save her from this demonic transformation we’ve been told about. The Foreign Trader tells me that this is likely true. But it also warns of shocking ramifications for those who make such bargains foolishly. Finally and most damningly: it is the card of spies.

I believe that this mission is yet another ploy to get us away from Drezen.

The boy leading the banshee away — was this a miracle or a ruse? Perhaps the boy was an illusion; perhaps a traitor. It’s impossible to say, because the only one we trust who saw it was poor Anevia, and she is a pale shadow of her normal self right now. What we know for sure is that Keeya went outside just afterward and saw nothing: no gaps in the lines, no enemy dead. It doesn’t make sense. Unless it was all a ruse so that we would let our guard down.

What angers me the most is that this isn’t even an original ruse we’ve fallen for! The demons have used distractions again and again to good effect. Joran Vhane can attest to that, wherever he is.

Think about it from their perspective. Four days ago, the demons tried to take Drezen, and Tirq used the Sword of Valor’s power to summon a planetar! That drove them off. But they regrouped and tried again, starting yesterday. And just as they are about to take the Sword, we appear. Yes, it was luck, and yes, we were badly weakened, but they don’t know that. Staunton sent the chimera at us to test our powers, and we dispatched it easily. He probably thinks we are much stronger than we are now. So they made a strategic retreat. And then they sent their spies to manipulate us and lure us away.

And they weren’t even that subtle about it. They wanted us out as quickly as possible. I strongly suspect Commander Turner, who all but pushed us out the door. When I brought up the chance of spies, he even replied: “How do you know that I am not a spy?”

Yet here we are, once again leaving Drezen basically defenseless. There’s at least one banshee and one more of those tunneling skeletons nearby, plus a dozen or more of the festering spirits. All just vanished. I have little doubt all could just as easily return.

Yet here we are, already behind enemy lines. We were only invisible for a matter of minutes, barely enough time to get away from the citadel gates. Certainly not enough time to get fully clear of the demon army and its sentries and spies. Sometimes I feel this land itself is spying upon us. And yet it was so easy! We passed without incident, as if they were just letting us leave.

I’m cursing myself for not realizing sooner. I’m so tired I can barely think anymore. I just pray we can make it back in time. I don’t think I’m wrong here. And what if I am? We lose a few hours investigating. But if I am right and we continue on … the fates have no mercy for the foolish. Our dearest friends and family will be killed or worse — Keeya, Auctus, R’atla, Ivan — as will a thousand crusaders. I could never forgive myself. Drezen will fall, and the Crusade will fall with it. You heard those demons. They are already cheering it. We need to go back!

Here is what I propose.

Barca, you check in with Arueshalae right away. It’s been a couple hours, and perhaps she now has information about Staunton or Irabeth.

I will make a Harrow reading. Not to determine whether we should go back; my draw of the Foreign Trader answers that. I will make a full reading to divine what is going on in Drezen and guide our approach.

I will also send a message to Ivan. I feel within myself a small, final reserve of magic, and I think I can do this. I’ll ask him for a report and alert him that he and Keeya should spy on Commander Turner and watch everyone in Drezen for suspicious actions. The Foreign Trader augers the power of spies — we must make sure that power cuts both ways!

Then we immediately head back to Drezen, as stealthily as possible. If we keep to the Ahari riverbed, just north of our position, its banks will give us at least some cover.

I will be praying to Desna and the Black Butterfly for guidance the whole way back. If you have any attachment to the gods, I suggest you pray as well. We will need every bit of help we can get. I know how tired and spent you all are; I am too. I realize we don’t stand much of a chance. But if I am right and we don’t act, then we stand no chance at all.

Who is with me?

View
The Wave Builds
Kyrk's Journal 15

Eilandra’s gifts have possibly already saved our lives. The Pauper’s Thighbone and Barca’s armor certainly have greatly increased our effectiveness. In our most recent battle with the terrible horse-impersonating demons, I was able to cast TWO spells within six seconds because of the rod. And multiple times was I able to reach my companions with spells that I had not prepared with that range. Simply amazing. And Barca has truly become a weapon of battle personified. Were it not for him, Riva would most definitely be dead, and it’s likely Locke would be as well. I believe I could have escaped, but I don’t know if I could continue after such an outcome.

For the wave is building in our quest to close the Worldwound. Calamitous events are occurring more frequently; the dangers we face growing in potency rapidly; and the focus on us as the main hope of the 5th Crusade becoming ever more apparent. For the Heroes of Kenebres are dead or turned to the side of chaos and evil! All save poor, broken Tirq. He MUST rise to the occasion, overcome his grief and guilt, and rejoin the battle with fervor and faith. Our enemies (real or potential) now include Minagho, Jerribeth, Areelu Vorlesh, Staunton Vhane, and Xanthir Vang, as well as, I fear, Atepna, Arn, and Tatsu! Such an array of different abilities and personalities. How can the four or five of us face all those threats?

I used to think that I needed to acquire as much arcane power as possible to have a chance. And while increasing my abilities is necessary, I have come to realize that seeing it through that lens only could lead to my downfall and that of my companions — and the world! From what I have gathered, Daeven and Atepna shared similar sentiment and look what has happened to them. Would I be a danger to my companions if given the chance for items such as this incredible rod — even with the best of intentions? Riva, for example, had NOTHING but the best intentions when she made the deal with Jerribeth, and I have great fear that that pact could one day doom her and the rest of us. We MUST free her from that potential danger.

All of us must act as moral checks and balances on each other, ever vigilant for signs of moral decay and rot. We are poised to return to Drezen where our actions and example as the new heroes of the crusade could literally determine the fate of millions of souls. We must not fail them, and that starts with not failing each other, no matter the temptation. And it has become clear to me that I am not willing to die before expressing the depth of my feelings for Keeya to her. In my dream visit, father gently teased me about it, but he is right. If I have the courage to face demons — and I do! — I have the power to tell her I love her, no matter her reaction. Perhaps that is all the power I need to survive and accomplish my mission. Perhaps that is the fantasy of a child. Either way, it is a trial I intend to accomplish.

View
Barca's Miracle
Barca's Journal 0.9

When presented with the opportunity by Eladria’s Miracle spell to speak with anyone of my choosing, I ask to speak with my mother. Eladria said nothing of my conversation needing to be with the living, and with death a constant threat, I need to know who I am.
Not knowing what to expect, I lie down to sleep and the world fades.
I wake in a strange place seemingly outside my body, this must be a dream.
A dense fog obscures anything beyond my immediate vision, and the only item with any clarity is the trunk of a very large and very old tree. I look closer and the trunk appears to be completely covered with carvings of differing ages and weathering. I do not know this tree, but recognize the symbols as having some significance in the back of my mind, even if their meaning escapes me.
A single symbol stands out, it is newer, and I remember seeing it painted on my Mother’s shawl when I was a young child. She would wrap me in it on especially cold nights when I had trouble sleeping. The closer I get, the more affinity I feel for this symbol and I reach out to touch it, or rather my mind reaches out to the symbol since I have no form that I can tell in this place, and it pulls me into it – space spins – loses shape – reforms.
I open my eyes and blink them reactively to the light in front of me. I have eyes to blink, looking down, and hands, I have form here.
- You have grown, and you fight for a purpose, even if not quite the same one we have fought for generations. You have much to learn, but I am proud.
I look up, and the light in front of me is a campfire, and on the other side looking at me appraisingly is a strong and wise seeming Bonuwat woman. A smile touches those knowing eyes – my mother.
- Can it really be you?
I am seated, but my muscles stress with tension as I wait her answer.
- It is I, my son. You have sought me out. I feared we would never be able to have this conversation, but Pulara and Shimye-Magalla have willed it so. For that I am grateful. I had hoped beyond hope that the line would not end with you, but I had to spirit you away to your father before you were old enough for me to guide you through the tree.
A tree? Realization washes over me.
- The tree of our ancestors?! I came through it, is that why I am here? Was that symbol a representation of you on the tree? Is each symbol another ancestor? Another generation?
She smiles in amusement and raises a hand to stall my unending stream of questions.
- You see true, my son. You visited the tree of our ancestors through some sort of astral projection, and using my sign as a focus, you are visiting me between worlds. This level of interaction is very rare even if I had been able to teach you about out ancestor-tree, and again I must thank Pulara and Shimye-Magalla for making this possible.
She makes a sign with her hand and presses her fingers to her lips before raising them to the sky in some sort of sign of thanks and praise.
- I am familiar with the Goddess Pulara, a powerful cleric named Eladria cast the spell making this encounter possible with the help of her divine magic, but who is this Shimye-Magalla you speak of?
She smiles, and settles her position in a way I recall from when she used to tell me stories.
- Shimye-Magalla is the goddess of our people. She gives us strength and we give respect and representation to her among the Jungle. Our tribe is…was, special among the Bonuwit. We are hunters of demons.
- Demons?!
- Yes, you are a long way from our homelands, but it appears you have inadvertently been drawn to your family’s specialty. The jungle is a bountiful provider and teeming with life, but it is abused and it’s people threatened by demons and a violent civilization of demon worshippers known as the Bekyar. The Bekyar have no respect for the jungle and its gifts, and they regularly invade Bonuwit and other tribal lands, selling the people they don’t kill as slaves. Our people don’t have any sort of standing army, and moving en mass through the deep jungle would be a logistical nightmare anyway, but those of us from certain ancestry dedicate ourselves to living in smaller groups and function as a protective and offensive strike force for Shimye-Magalla’s jungle.
I sit back in awe.
- Incredible, I always remember a feeling of strength when thinking of you, but I never realized the breadth of your warrior spirit…
The edge of my vision begins to cloud.
- You will realize more than that my son.
My vision continues to vaporize, and my mother begins to fade.
- No! I’m not ready! I just got you back!
The vanishing image of my mother stands.
- I love you my son, and I know you will make us proud. Follow the line, follow the symbols, see through the eyes of our ancestors and know our strength, know our story.
- Mother!
- Follow the signs!

Reality spins – form vanishes – an image coalesces
The tree.
My mother.
A line flows from her sign, instinct makes me follow it to more symbols, one stands out – my formless self spins in…

I wake from my deep sleep, the world feels real, or at least familiar again. My mother stays strong in my mind, but my time walking through the lives of my ancestors is already beginning to fade from my memory. I lived 10 lives, 50, 100, the number fades but the strength and resolve their experiences has given me remains.
The memory of my mother is staying with me, the strength of Shimye-Magalla is with me…Shimye-Magalla…yes – I grab my great-club and run my hands over the many symbols carved into its surface – What has just been a meaningless heirloom now reads like a book – prayers to Shimye-Magalla, names of its previous wielders – I now know the most recent name on it to be that of my grandfather, Rhuarc, and an incredibly old carving representing a distant aasimar ancestor named Chaendaer – and totems to friendly protector spirits of the jungle.

The memories of my ancestors lives have subsided, I am fully myself once more. A long drink from my water skin tastes better than the sweetest wine. Every breath is exhilarating. My new armor? The symbols of Iomedae, they are morphing.
Shimye-Magalla, she is with me…symbols of the jungle are mixed with the Leaves of Gozreh, and Butterflies of Desna live under its canopy. I have my purpose, I have direction, I have a warmth within me…my mother, she is with me…Shimye-Magalla, she is with me.

View
Barca Sechabo – Where do I come from?
Barca's Journal: addendum

Ever since meeting the mysterious group of Pathfinders, and if he admits it to himself, even before that; Barca has felt something has been missing from his life, and the more he contemplates on it, he falls asleep many nights wondering about his past and his heritage.
Barca’s lineage from his Mother’s side is that of the Bonuwat people of the Mwangi Expanse. Barca knows little of their culture and heritage because his mother, along with most of his tribe, were killed or taken as slaves by a warring Bekyar tribe, who are commonly referred to as “flesh-merchants” and “demon-worshipers” by many in the surrounding lands. Knowing that their village was being targeted and that the odds were not in their favor, Barca was hidden away by his mother with only some carvings and a ceremonial great-club for remembrance. He was rescued by his estranged father, an explorer for the Island experiment which is Promise, and brought back there for the remainder of his childhood.
Unbeknownst to Barca, the great-club left to him by his mother is covered in totem carvings not just honoring his people and ancestors, but the Goddess Shimye-Magalla, who is a deity mostly unknown outside the Mwangi Expanse, and venerated by the Bonuwat people.
The different tribes and peoples of the Mwangi Expanse are very spiritual and tend to combine different types of spirituality. It would not be uncommon to meet a Mwangian who worships Gozreh but also recognizes the spirits of nature, totems and the people around them, including their ancestors. Shimye-Magalla is a form of this amalgamated religiosity, and is a combination of two revered deities, Gozreh and Desna, and Desna.jpgdeveloped in Bonuwat mythology over many generations. It is unknown whether Shimye-Magalla is her own entity, or if her worshipers receive benefit surreptitiously from both Gozreh and Desna, but those that follow her seem to genuinely receive a blessing.

View
Riva: The Publican
15th of Neth, the Bell of Mercy Redoubt

The_Publican.jpg
The Publican represents fellowship and camaraderie, and a place of refuge for those in need. Most would find the cyclops inconsequential, but he has insights relevant to the reading or a quest. Misaligned, the Publican represents refuge unfound, or false information given at a crucial moment.

Utter darkness. I had forgotten what darkness looks like. Looks like. I realize how that sounds. But I haven’t seen the blinding quietude of darkness since I was twelve years old, a scared girl, covers pulled over her head, Mama quietly singing me songs of sweet dreams.

I didn’t know about the others — I was cut off from them in nearly all ways — but I think we all felt in our own ways the terrible distance from the place we had started. However mired in the Worldwound, the redoubt of the Bell of Mercy is blessed, yet we could not have been farther from those blessings. We were somehow on the shadow plane, and in that place there was only a broken priest of Desna, howling curses in my useless ears.

I have never felt so helpless. Even in the depths of the symboldreams I did not feel quite so helpless. I was like that girl again, cower under the covers, and I answered in the only way I knew how: first humming and then singing those Desnan lullabies Mama sang to me years ago. Galea was there with me; she sang too. So did the wraith: somehow I could feel those same songs resonate within its lost soul. Oh — that we could have destroyed it and sent it on to what dreams may come!

But we only cast it back into the darkness, and as it fled so did the darkness’s depth. We found ourselves in a vast underground temple, standing in a wide pit, shallow water covering its surface. Above us there was a statue of Desna and another — the Empyrial lord Pulura, I now know — with water flowing forth from Desna’s hands. I said a prayer and put my hands into the falling water.

I found myself instantly transported to a great temple to Pulura, perched on a precipice where a waterfall once rushed into the plains below: Pulura’s Fall. Now, instead of a river, there was a demon-filled rift; in place of the lake below, a dry and dusty basin teeming with undead. Yet the temple is still here, protected by Pulura’s blessings and maintained by the high priestess Eliandra and her clerics and acolytes. Above the temple, the chaotic turmoil of the Worldwound sky parts, revealing a cloudless expanse by day and the stars by night.

I spoke with Eliandra for some time, while I waited for the others to come over. She recognized me as someone who had been touched by the Black Butterfly. Blessed by the Black Butterfly, she said. I’ve come to believe this myself, though I worry about my hopes becoming too high. Eliandra did not seem to understand how much pain this transformation has caused me. I don’t understand it either.

Eventually, the others arrived. First Locke, and then after a long delay, Kyrk, who carried an unconscious Barca. Kyrk remains forever skeptical, though that is not altogether a bad thing. Our wounds were tended to, though it seems that Locke and Kyrk have been cursed by the wraith, carrying with them its pall of sorrow. I will try to heal them myself, but having been through the battle at the redoubt and the trial beneath it, my powers were utterly spent.

As night came, we gathered on the observing platform at the temple’s center. We sat quietly and looked up at the sky, while Eliandra described the constellations above. It brought me back to sitting on the roof deck of my home in Promise, while Dad described the skies above. It was a wonderful thing to be part of Eliandra’s sacred ritual, but in truth it mostly just filled me with heartache. When she was done, it was nearly midnight. I whispered a prayer to Desna and drew a card from the Harrow deck: the Publican, marking a place of refuge for those in need. I don’t doubt for a moment the power of these cards, and yet it still sends a chill down my spine how accurate they can be. Sitting there under those stars, cards in hand, I thought of Mama, I thought of Dad, an overwhelming feeling of homesickness churning within me. Pulura is a patron of the homesick, I’d learned earlier from her priests.

And so when Eliandra asked us what we wished for, I did not hesitate, I fairly bawled out at her: “I wish to visit my parents!” I instantly felt absurd asking that, but she showed no surprise. She granted that I would visit them, that night, in a dream. Kyrk asked the same, to see his father. Locke, ever thinking of the greater cause, simply asked to speak with Trynna back in Drezen, I presume to let them know our status.

Not much later, we were shown to the temple’s spare guest quarters. I suspect they get few guests these days. I’d been worried that in my excitement I would not be able to fall asleep, but it was only the briefest moment before sleep swept over me, and I began to dream.

————

I am standing on Prophets Road, Promise, seven steps from the house where I was born.

Six steps. All the houses along the street are the same, or nearly so: two small stories designed for two adults and two children, floor plans identically laid out by the Council for Enlightenment’s architectural committee, facades copying various Azlanti motifs. Ours is only notable for Dad’s roof deck and telescope, a major dispensation, and its purple door. Mama chose that color. It caused a minor uprising in the neighborhood, but in the end no one wants to upset the town Harrower.

Five steps. I look up, beyond the roof, at the stars. A shiver runs down my back as I find the North Star. Locating a few constellations, I’m surprised to see them as advanced as they are. Then I realize: I’m halfway to the other side of the world here. The sun will rise in a couple of hours, in the constellation of the Star Gazer, appropriately enough.

Four steps. I look down as I step into the street, its cobblestones perfectly aligned and cambered. They are smaller than I remember.

Three steps. I look to my left, down the road toward Bellows Park, where Ivan and I used to play. Where I was first struck down by a vision of the symboldreams, where the nightmares all started.

Two steps. I look to my right, toward the Center for Psychogenic Advancement, where I spent most of the past ten years.

One step. I look behind me. looking toward the shore, toward the ocean, toward Varisia, toward Cheliax, toward the lands of my mother and my father. And much farther beyond, to the Worldwound, where my body lies sleeping.

I open the purple front door. It’s been so long.

The living room is a mess. Dad is collapsed in his armchair, sleeping, a pile of papers overflowing from the table next to him onto the floor. They are mostly his sketches of the sky, notes scrawled in the margins in a shaky hand. He looks so much older. It’s only been four months since we left home, but his hair is now mostly white. I pick up the pipe by his side, ashes spilling onto the table, and smell the pungent, floral odor of opium mixed with the tobacco. My hands are now shaking as I set the pipe back down. Was coming here a mistake?

I walk up the stairs and down the upstairs hall, my dream form silently passing over the floorboards whose every creak I know. Past my room, then Ivan’s room, to the door of my parent’s room, half open. I push it open.

“Riva. I’m so glad you came.”

I don’t for a second wonder how she knew that, why she would be awake right now, sitting up in bed as if waiting for me. I rush across the room, throwing my arms around her, thankful that however this dream worked, at this moment I feel solid and real and there, my face buried in her shoulder. We hold each other like that for a long time. When we finally let go for a moment, I notice the cards, spread across the bed.

We must have talked for a couple hours, until the sun started rising and this miracle’s effect ended.

I tell her how Ivan was doing, how confident he is in his new abilities. Well, he was always confident! But now his powers of disguise and persuasion are truly amazing. I tell her how happy he is to be seeing the great world beyond Promise.

I tell her about the Black Butterfly. How she shouldn’t be afraid for me anymore. It isn’t some evil force changing me; it is a friend of Desna. I can tell she isn’t sure — so long have they lived in fear of whatever forces were possessing me — so I stand in the middle of my parents’ bedroom and open my wings, great butterfly wings reflecting the darkness and glory of a clear night sky. The wings are so large in the dream, and as I unfurl them they fill the whole room with images of all the stars, planets, and galaxies in creation. Mama sits on the bed silently, just looking at me with a mix of pride and awe and sadness.

I ask about Dad. He continues to blame himself for my condition, and he has only gotten worse since Ivan and I left. I ask Mama to please, please let him know that it is not his fault. Tell him of the Black Butterfly, tell him that the dreams have stopped and I am well again. I don’t mention to her the intensity of the nightmares that ended only a month ago.

I ask how she is. I can see the strain. I want to tell her not to worry, but … the words catch in my throat. There is no point denying the danger that Ivan and I are in. So I tell her about my friends. I tell her how we are all looking out for each other.

And as the first light glows on the horizon, I ask her to pray with me. That surprises her, but with a great smile, she nods and takes my hand. We sit there on the bed, looking out the window to the east, toward Varisia, toward the Worldwound, toward the rising sun beyond, and together we quietly sing the ancient prayersongs of the Great Dreamer.

View
Message to Trynna

Through the power of a Miracle, I was granted the opportunity to reach out to my friend Trynna in a dream. I appeared in her room as she woke from her sleep. I spoke to her.

“Trynna, do not be alarmed. It is I , Locke. I do not have the time to explain all the details, but I am reaching out to you through the use of powerful magic. I have continued to travel with the Hermaeans deep into the Worldwound on various missions for the Crusades. I wanted to let you know, that we continue to fight the vile demons, but I am safe. However, it is my understanding that the “Heroes of Kenabres” have turned their backs on the crusades. It seems that the lust for and acquisition of power has corrupted and twisted their minds. This is troubling news, if our heroes have turned against us, what hope does the 5th Crusade have left? Morale plays an important factor in war. You should be on the lookout. We don’t know who we can truly trust. I hope to return to you soon my dear friend. Perhaps when the demons are slain, and the Worldwound cleansed of it’s taint, we can rebuild the Wolves. I have come to trust my new companions, they all have their personal demons that they struggle with, but they have proven themselves as powerful allies as well as trusted friends. I hope that I can continue to be a beacon of light in these dark times for them. I fear the corruption of the demons that now poisons the “Heroes of Kenabres” will soon be aimed at us. Lastly, be aware. Staunton Vhane ’s army will soon march to take back Drezen. We will return as quickly as possible, but you must warn the Commander. Iomedae watch over you, I shall return soon.

View
Promised You a Miracle
Kyrk's Journal 14 (special entry)

The following is a recounting of the dream I had last night in which, through the divine power given to Eladria by the goddess Pulara, I was able to “speak” with my father whilst I slept.

And what a truly moving and precious gift it was that she gave us. The experience has stirred emotions I have resisted or buried over the past few months. Eladria urged me (well, scolded, really) to cultivate Love in my heart, and maybe that is worthwhile even given the horror that surrounds us. I expect she would argue it is exactly that horror that necessitates the cultivation of love rather than requiring it to be denied…

Nevertheless, communicating with my father and being reminded of how much I left behind has left me somewhat weepy. I will try to navigate this maelstrom of emotions.


Father! Fear not! This is no demonic intrusion, but your son Kyrk. I did not mean to startle you.

How is this possible, my son? Not that I am ungrateful, but well, this is a new experience!

By the grace of a priestess of Pulara named Eladria, I have been granted the ability to visit you while I sleep. She has given Riva, Barca, and one of our companions — a paladin of Iomedae named Locke Truestrike — this gift through four Miracles. Her power is truly awesome. Not only is she capable of this feat, but through her sheer presence, somehow she is protecting herself, her acolytes, and her estate from hordes of demons hovering nearby. For we are deep within the Wounded Lands.

So you have been touched by the divine? I shall keep it secret from everyone here

Thats hilarious, father. Fear not, I am not joining any religious organization anytime soon. Eladria castigated me for my interest in Nethys, but despite her assumption that I worship the God of Magic, I assure you that my “devotion” is still more intellectual and philosophical than religious. Mostly, anyway.

And are you…okay? We have received the news about Nelethiel.

And did you hear of my part in it? I grieve daily for her passing and for my catalytic actions (a simple Color Spray, father!) that caused the guards to use deadly force against us. I did not heed the warnings of our guides, and the prejudice of the guards against one such as me proved a fatal combination. I have learned much since then about restraint and caution. But Neleryn has left our party — perhaps he is already home?

I have not spoken with him if he is.

I feel so guilty, though I know it was not only my fault. Everything is so heightened and tense where we are and where we have been. One false move and lives are lost.

Are you and mother well? I miss both of you terribly. I miss our home…my room…my other friends. I even miss Professor Keliarr’etek at the Academy! Who would have thought!?

I shall communicate your good wishes to all who know you, even the cranky Professor! And yes, your mother and I are healthy and busy as always. And your friends are the same: dedicated to their studies and The Glorious Endeavour.

Father, each day I have been away has been packed with either the terror of possible death or the wonder of arcane discoveries made, or both. The longer I have been away, the more I am convinced of our need to protect all of Golarion from the cancer that is the Worldwound. I cannot come home yet.

So you have heard of your pardon?

Eladria shared that news with me yesterday, even as she was berating my choices and general personality.

When everyone learned the truth of what you had done and why you did it, I must admit it filled me with pride. And Keeya?

I have not seen her in a couple days, and there is no way she has heard the news. Father, I…I…, Father it is complicated. Though I have tried to make it simple, it seems circumstances would not have it be so. I never told you, but I have deep feelings for Keeya.

Oh, really?

Good to know sarcasm comes through loud and clear in a Miracle-fueled dream, Father. In any case, yes, I still have those feelings, though I have tried to deny them to focus on my tasks here: protecting my friends and growing my arcane abilities as we take on more difficult challenges and face deadlier enemies. Keeya has never shown me any romantic interest, so I guess I gave up.

You’re fighting demons of unimaginable cruelty and power, but you’re scared of sharing your feelings with a woman? That sounds about right. I don’t blame you. But you know that if you ever return home, she will not be able to join you.

Yes, yes, I know. I can’t think about that now. I have to focus on our group’s fight against the forces of chaos and evil. Perhaps I will find the courage to show some honesty to Keeya, but we have more important concerns now and for the foreseeable future. Until we are dead or we have triumphed, closing the Worldwound is what matters.

Keep your wits about you and become as skilled with magic as you can. But don’t lose sight of what grounds you. I suspect your humanity will be as important a weapon as your arcane tools.

I will try, Father.

And thank you. It is quite possible that by doing what you are, you will save ALL of our lives.

Thank you. Please give mother a hug for me and share with her all that I have told you. And if you see Neleryn or his family, please, well…I don’t know what you should say. I wish I had the words to convey what I feel. I love you all and hope someday to see you again.


View
All You Need is Love?
Kyrk's Journal 13

We managed to damage the zealot wraith enough to cause it to flee, but not before I was knocked unconscious, and not before I and others were drained of some of our natural charisma. Thankfully, Riva had enough positive energy left in her to channel against the ghostly presence, and Locke was also able to damage it with his smiting.

The supernatural darkness lifted, and we were able to see that nothing of value was in the 10’ deep pit, other than mucky bloody liquid. Riva flew up to investigate the fountain of Desna and, touching its waters, was transported (we eventually found out) tens if not hundreds of miles away to a holy fortress of sorts. We heard the voice of a creature named Eladria urging us to join her and Riva wherever they were.

I was immediately suspicious, especially because the fountain reeked with the stench of rotting corpses, yet Locke and I knew we could not let Riva face whatever it was by herself. So, Locke touched the water and disappeared and then, holding Barca’s unconscious form tightly, I put my hand in the water and teleported as well.

Eladria, an extremely powerful worshipper of Pulara, was a gorgeous but intimidating presence. She clearly did not care for me, even insulted me, and claimed I would be a detriment to our cause if I didn’t find Love. Or some such nonsense. She did have a pretty thorough knowledge of much of our past, including even in Promise, but her assessment of what was in my heart and thoughts was — I thought — simplistic, reductive, unfair, and inaccurate. Still, it got under my skin, and I will think about the matters of the heart of which she spoke. Perhaps there is wisdom I am missing to interpret her acerbic comments.

We were given food, allowed to rest, and were quite frankly in awe of the power Eladria seemed to wield. All around the fortress, demons lurked or flew but could not advance upon us or Eladria’s acolytes. Divine energy kept them at bay. Nearby, we saw a frozen waterfall, but I can’t recall the name of the area. We were deep in the Wounded Lands for sure.

For all my grumbling about Eladria’s comments she did provide us with amazing gifts. First, she had her healers minister to Barca. Then, she used Miracle to grant each of us the opportunity to communicate with anyone via our dreams that night. I chose father. Riva chose her mother. And Locke chose Trynna. I don’t know if Barca was able to partake in this powerful and generous bestowal. I will write about my experience in another entry.

In the morning, Eladria told us what the 4 mysterious auras were I had detected on the level with the fountain. They were the powerful relics the zealot wraith had been guarding. Eladria said that we could claim them for our own use in the fight to close the Worldwound and that we must do all we could to keep them from evil hands. We were transported back to the fountain where we claimed our prizes.

And what prizes they are! A set of mithral full plate armor of Iomedae which I believe Barca will be able to use to great effect. Holy barding of pleated light of Pulara that I hope will benefit Locke. A peculiar magical jawbone that Riva will use. And the Pauper’s Thighbone — a rod of metamagic such as I have never even thought possible. That, I will wield. It contains the thighbone of St. Argil, a man of great selflessness and charity. It is said that whomever wield the rod must continue that tradition of giving, lest the rod be drained of its power. I hope that I will be up to the task.

Now, we are reunited with Arushalae who bravely defended the tower down to her last arrow. Hopefully, she has bought us enough time to make off with the Bell of Mercy if that’s what we decide to do. Frankly, I think we may need to abandon that goal, since Eladria warned us that Drezen is facing dire threats that require our timely assistance. Yes, the Bell would be helpful, but too many lives may be lost if attempting to take it with us delays us too much. Clearly, the demons are not interested in taking the Bell for themselves, so I think we could abandon it for a later time, AFTER Drezen has been saved.

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.