Last Stand of the 5th Crusade

Lokura's Journal 3
12-16 Arodus

13 Arodus, 4713 (Wealday)

Spent 2sp (Breakfast, 1 sp/day each person)
Spent 170 on healing

Shelyn forgive me I did not write yesterday, as events left me reeling. Even knowing the ways of Kenabres and the Dawnbringer, I find no beauty in this.

It is written that Chaos dances deep within the heart of Law, and Law fixes Chaos deep in its center. Nowhere is this more true than here, so close to the Wastes of the Old Kingdom — where Her knights fight demons spilling in — that chaos spills also from the hearts of those sworn to protect the city.

But first, the events of prior days….

Two nights ago, we were paid an unorthodox visit by one Anevia Triabade, a spy who claimed to belong to an order called the Council of Enlightenment. She sapped us in our sleep, in order to “test us”. To her credit, she could have killed us, so we chose to hear her out. It was not clear whether she was sent by Irobeth, or acting under other orders.

Yesterday, Anevia took us on a cold and windy tour of the city, filling in my comrades on the Council, a who’s who of Kenabres clergy, and corruption within the city from the Templars of the Ivory Labyrinth, a cult of Baphomet. She did mention Sunestae, a half-elf demon hunter, who is the head Bishop of Iomedae. Also Nestran Alodae of St Clydwell, religious leader of the city.

That evening came our downfall. While not much for Runic wisdom, perhaps there is some truth in the old dwarven song, Barzûln Dûnost Athrid Dûrmgrist. (Literally, this means “Cursed is the Beard of One who Leaves the Clan”, but most northern bards sing, “Never Split the Party”.)

We visited the local soldier’s inn (name?), where I earned nearly three weeks’ breakfast by singing as many verses of “Songbird’s Beauty” — to a shower of cheers. I used a bit of the funds to fill Aron’s silver flask with good Ustalavan vodka. The others then left for our apartments. Riva stayed with me, and we danced together until late in the evening. She was a fine dancer, not hindered a bit by her deafness.

It was not until today that we learned of our fellowship’s demise. Kyrk, Keeya, Neleryn and Nelthiel were accosted by guards at the gate into New Kenabres. It was difficult to interpret what actually happened, hearing only the side of an overly zealous guard, but Nelthiel was killed; Kyrk, Keeya, and Neleryn were put in the walls. A terribly dark day, to learn that my new friends, whom I’d spent the better part of a year with, would no longer be with us.

Early Morning, 14 Arodus

Ivan woke us, having spend the last few days in Horgus’ estate. The news of our friend’s death and friends’ imprisonment did little to damp his mood. He had a lead. According to his sources, Horgus’ estate has been corrupted, he disappeared 6 days ago (Fireday). Commander Olnik is a Templar (Minotaur, symbol of Baphomet). Ivan found a letter from Hosilla, that they would take Horgus to a place outside of Neathholm, a village underground of Kenabres. He also found it likely that Aron had gone in search of Horgus.

After filling Ivan in on last night’s events, we visited the prisoners to try to get them some creature comforts. Neleryn had been beaten badly. In abject cruelty, the guards had left his sister’s corpse in the cell with him. They were also torturing Keeya, keeping her cold and wet in her cell. How can these men call themselves paladins? How is their cruelty any different from that which rises from the abyss? We were not allowed to visit Kyrk.

Ivan introduced us to some friends, who seemed intent on joining our party. Trynna Talbot, a Wolf of Kenabres. And Locke, who fought at my side during the battle of the Tower. He is now also a Wolf, and no longer wears his tabard, nor his battle patches.

We did not make it to Neathholm. The mere drop into the sewers nearly killed us. We returned to our apartments to rest for two days.

16 Arodus

Yesterday we hired a nurse to tend our wounds. From our windows we watch a procession of the “Heroes of Kenabres”, an apparently renowned company who just arrived out of the Shutterwood. They were prophecied to be saviors of the 5th crusade. A human from far off land.

Today, after spending all my remaining gold on healing, we returned to the crack in the ground. Went below, after about ½ hour we found double sets of tracks (presumably Aron & Horgus). Some ways in, a narrow cavern led to a blue glow. There, we found a shrine to Torag, which may have fallen from the surface. There, a mongrelman whom we had wounded lay atop of an altar, with 3 dwarves praying.

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Barca's Journal 0.1
II. Barca's Day Off

I can’t believe I’m missing our tour of the city – head injuries are serious Barca; take it easy today Barca – they’re probably seeing all kinds of cool big city stuff… oww, damn, the room’s spinning again… maybe an extra nap won’t kill me…

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Riva: The Eclipse

The_Eclipse.jpg

The Eclipse darkens the sky with its ill-omened sign
Bringing self-doubt and loss of one’s purpose.
It especially afflicts those with faith in the divine,
As their talents are tested and wane under stress.
And those seeking to follow a path will soon find
Their way lost, as promise dissolves into death.
A misaligned eclipse augurs an ability ere concealed
Or a previously hidden location revealed.

Dear Keeya! And Kyrk and Neleryn! And poor poor Nelethiel. Though we’ve crossed half the world, it feels we have barely set out. And yet here we are, half of us dead or damned. “The Eclipse darkens the sky with its ill-omened sign.” What horrible truth.

It’s been over a year since I’ve drawn from the deck, let alone taken a reading. I’ve discovered a profound solace in the order that Katsuyama-san revealed to me, and the cards have no place there. Still I always knew they would be back. Every time I told Mama about the peace of meditation and the order it brought me, she would speak words of encouragement while her eyes would ever so slightly narrow with a look of concern. I’m sure she knew I saw it. The power of the Harrow has been with our family for far too long to be cast aside by a year of training.

So I knew that the cards’ power would sometime reassert itself, and I knew that I would immediately recognize that moment when it came. But dear fates what a horrid moment.

It had been a wonderful evening. No one knows me or my history here, and that is the most liberating thing about this town. This city! To go to a bar and speak with strangers, true strangers? To feel entirely new music, to dance and dance! The men there were hardly the gentlemen of Hermea, but — damn it all, the gentlemen of Hermea were scared of me! I don’t even care if these men were a bunch of letches! Just for an evening, it’s good to just talk and be free and dance! Admittedly I felt a bit more free because Lokura was there. I’m happy to have him in our company. He seems both a gentleman and bon vivant, despite his heritage. And a fine singer as well!

And now I know what was happening meanwhile. What song was the band playing when a warhammer crushed Nelethiel’s skull? Who was I dancing with? And a warhammer of all things. Dad once told a story about a warhammer in our family’s past. The fates are nothing if not cruel. I hate knowing this. I don’t want this.

Yet I pulled that deck from its pouch. I didn’t even draw. I just turned it over and the Eclipse was staring at me and I knew that was the answer:

And those seeking to follow a path will soon find
Their way lost, as promise dissolves into death.

Those poor fools. So much promise wasted. If I had been there I’m sure I could have prevented it. Who was I dancing with when that warhammer came down on her head. I don’t even know.

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Cohort Logs: 12 Arodus 4713

Auctus

I have only just returned with the news of murder: Nelethiel killed in cold blood, while Kyrk, Neleryn and Keeya are in a frigid unforgiving cell. I do believe corruption runs deep in this town and now more than ever I need guidance and wisdom to overcome it. Never have I experienced such swift condemnation or heartless indifference than I have this eve. There are wonders in this city as there is evil; I have now felt its steel hand on my heart, but I will not falter. Tomorrow, I go back to the Black Wing, not as a man of science, but a student of law. I will not allow my comrades, my men of Promise to be judged by our lessers.

Ivan

Unknown at this time

Keeya

I can barely hold this quill, but fortunate to have it. The guards still have Nelethiel’s blood on their tunics, yet behave like nothing. In their eyes, I see an emptiness, yet on their face I see concern. It is something I cannot truly grasp and may never understand. I do not want to. My heart aches and my body trembles. Why did I not react? Why could I not stop what was happening? Nelethiel acted to save her brother, the person she holds most dear and paid for it with blood. I can still hear her cry.

Kyrk did all he could to save Neleryn from a brand. A brand! How many people carry this mark? Does everyone watch as their loved ones are burned simply to show mortality? If they would have tried and burned Kyrk and nothing happened, what would they do? Chop of his head? Strangle him in the rain and the mud? I cannot think. I see him through the bars, thrown on the floor with blood stained clothes. The guards dropped him hard to the stone and kicked him numerous times. Each strike felt it was on me and I could only whisper to them to stop.

Poor Neleryn is also near. He is in worse shape. I fear he will not survive the night, but if and when he wakes to learn the truth, will he not die again, over and over? What was his crime? What set off the guards to attack so ruthlessly? What in all that is holy in a city bless by a God could make guards do what they have done. Was it Kyrk ancestory? Was it their contempt for an elf? I am so scared and alone. I am cold, wet and helpless. Kyrk, please wake up… I need you.

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New Kenabres Southern Gate Incident Report

This is the incident report that your characters will end up getting a copy of near the start of the next adventure. Irabeth Tirabade will have a copy of this report after she learns of the incident.


Unit Commander: Staff-Sergeant Billows
Unit Support: Sergeant Fenley, Corporal Lanning, Corporal Wenstein

12 Arodus 4713- 3 Rings beyond Sunset

Approached by a group of four:(1) male tiefling; mixed heritage, (1) male elf, (1) female elf and (1) female sylph. On personal inspection of male elf Sergeant Fenley experienced an unknown “wicked” sensation. The male elf stared deeply into Sergeant Fenley’s eyes during this sensation. Sergeant Fenley responded immediately by apprehending the suspected male elf to institute standard demonic vetting test. Corporal Lanning assisted with securing the suspect. Sergeant Fenley ordered the three individual in tow to back off, as well and others approaching the gate.

At this point, the male tiefling demanded the release of the male elf in custody and pulled out a magical scroll. The tiefling proceeded to cast a spell of unknown effect that surrounded the elf in custody creating a field that hindered the ability to hold the suspect. The male elf attempted to break free but failed. Sergeant Fenley immediately ordered for back up and the neutralization of the teifling.

Sergeant Fenley and Corporal Lanning released the male elf and pulled their weapons to neutralize a potential demonic possession residing in the elf, most likely emanating from the fiendish heritage of the male tiefling and leader of this band. I, Staff-Sergeant Billows and Corporal Wenstein pulled our bows and opened fire on the male tiefling. The male tiefling responded to firing a cone that stunned and disarmed Corporal Wenstein, although I was unaffected. The female elf, at this time, pulled out a bow and engaged the battle, firing at Sergeant Fenley. This shot gave the male tiefling a moment to flee, running past the female elf and getting into a defensive posture. The male tiefling then fired another cone staggering corporal Lanning and disarming him.

The battle continued with arrows firing at the male tiefling until he fell. Sergeant Fenley charged forward striking a blow to the female elf: a fatal blow. Final arrow shots by myself and Corporal Wenstein also dropped the male elf attempting to escape.

The fourth member, a female sylph spent the entire incident on her knees with her hands held up in a defensive posture. She will be questioned and detained until her affiliation with the two surviving suspects is ascertained.

End Report

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Barca's Journal
I. Exile

The red fades from my vision, I feel exhausted, fatigued – why is there yelling?
I look down and my fists are covered with blood, in confusion I look around quickly and make eye contact with Auctus – that’s right, he was getting hassled by that Taldan elitist – why is he looking at me like that?
Auctus’ terrified gaze briefly looks past me as I hear more commotion, I turn and the sight is worse than I thought – fuck, I went too far, the rage…Fuck.

I like the airship, even if it can feel a little cramped sometimes. I’ve tried to get Auctus to spend more time on deck, but he doesn’t like heights, and says he has too much reading to do in preparation for the next part of our journey. I’ve even seen 2 types of bird I’ve never encountered before, but he just reminds me to make drawings of them in my notebook. Kyrk took some brief interest in my drawing and sat with me a few times while I watched the passing landscape. He seems like a decent sort, if you don’t mind the horns, but even though he is physically much older than me, I think he is just as freaked out at leaving Hermea for the first time.

I haven’t spoken much with the others, I think I like Lokura, he has sparred with me multiple times which has helped make the journey go faster – but what really awaits us?

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Neleryn Journal #1
To Kenabres

Father has decided to send us to to Kenabres alongside the exiles. We are to lend our aid to Paladin Irabeth Tirabade’s forces. Father’s true intentions are for me to research the the power of the wardstones should Hermea ever need to construct or acquire its own protection from the Abyss. I was hoping to stay at home in Promise a little longer before being sent off again but oh well.

It took us about a month by Gnomish Airship to reach Kenabres. That was my first time on such ship. Quite a wonderous thing, to be able to sail the skies. Our party is an eclectic bunch, to say the least. I mostly keep to myself or converse with Nelethiel. It is good to see Kyrk, an old acquaintance from the academy ,is with us though. I don’t know him well, but I remember his skill in the Arcane arts was top notch. We briefly caught up and even traded some spells. From what I hear, when I was away most recently, he got caught up in some troubles leading to his expulsion. I will have to ask him about it later.

After arriving in Kenabres, we were shown to our rooms and have been told to lie low and not to draw attention to ourselves. That is exactly what I had planned to do, until Kyrk bursted through the door and requested my presence. Apparently Lokura encountered an acquaintance , Aron Kir, a member of the Wolves. Aron seemed drunk and hysterical. I didn’t know what he was saying most of the time, but Kyrk was kind enough to translate occasionally. He seemed to be searching for a noble named Horgus Gwerm. Aron’s story and explanation seemed very vague and I am unsure of his true intentions. He pleaded with us to help him rescue Horgus from his supposed captors. He stormed off without us, I would have let him be but the party decided it would be in his best interest to apprehend him and keep him from getting into trouble or hurt. We failed in securing Aron and he got away but at least we kept him from getting himself killed.

I hope Nelethiel has been able to secure our surroundings, I fear we may be running into trouble soon.

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Cohort Logs

Ivan

It’s amazing to be off the airship. To walk on the ground in a new land with so many people gets me going, although I am going to miss my nights talking with Keeya. She is finally warming up to me.

This city is amazing, with twice the population of Promise I am bound to never go bored. After walking the streets for two days I was surprised to see so many humans in a city not bound by dragonic law, but at the same time, I hear there is a mighty silver dragon that walks the streets.

I hear my new paladin friend Draegan is going to a noble’s manor to learn of an abduction. I think I will go as well to see what I can learn.

Nelethiel

Guarding the area is nearly impossible. I can get to the roof easily enough and get a sight on most angles, but with so many people walking around I will never be able to know friend or foe. It seems the guards have the same problems. I have seen many instances of martial law enforced with fist and proclamation and we have only just arrived. I hear they mercenaries and adventures contained to a camp beyond the walls in the north. Wise move considering the threats.

Auctus

This forced mission is already a bother. There are no suitable libraries and the people here are clueless to what lies just beyond the Sellen River. How can this be?! Much of the knowledge these so-called adventures and soldier have of demons is confused and muddled, yet my father somehow believes I can learn from this. I have heard of a Librarium in the Gate District. It is claimed to be impressive, but I doubt it will hold a candle to what I have at Promise.

Keeya

This place is a wonder! So many voices to hear and faces to see. I have walked the streets with Nelethiel and overheard the most amazing stories. This city is brutish, but also lovely. Auctus is ready to crawl out of his skin in anger and frustration. I wish I could tell him to calm down and relax, but he is very short with me and feels his life is wasting away with this pointless mission. Nelethiel is stressed out because she does not feel capable to protect us at night, but I don’t think it’s really her responsibility. We are all here together and as long as she does her best, I feel safe. Ivan continues to make me laugh, but he also makes me feel uncomfortable. He is far too young to understand his advances and I know it makes Kyrk uncomfortable.

We met a few new people, Draegan and Locura. Both men are hardened from battle and trajedy. Draegon is pure in heart and Locura has the most beautiful voice, something unexpected. I hope to learn more about them in the coming months.

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Kyrk's Memoirs
Journal 1: Promise after Promise?

Saying goodbye to my family and friends was excruciating. I still can’t tell if the looks on my parents’ faces were due to disappointment in me or sadness for my leaving. I feel like I let them down horribly, both by brining dishonor and shame to our family, but also because of aborting my studies at the Academy after so much hard work trying to become the Wizard they have always encouraged and expected me to be. Between me and my siblings, however, there was only sadness and the rift of separation already yawning between us. I will miss their company so, even the needling and joking at my expense!

But after experiencing that fateful contact with the Hezrou, I KNOW my destiny lies elsewhere than Hermea. Whatever Abyssal connection I share with that disgusting entity, it is one that must be faced, for to ignore it is, ultimately, to be swallowed up by it, I believe. I would rather investigate on my own terms and choose how to sunder any evil taint that claims hold of me than fall prey to it slowly or insidiously without having a choice.

I can’t believe Keeya made the sacrifice she has to come with me. I feel guilty that SHE feels so guilty! Yes, the dreams plagued her, but it was the demon working to find me that was the cause. And I was the one it acted through to gain its freedom. I was the pawn in that chess move! I swear I will get my revenge on it, and any of its kind that disrupt the balance between good and evil, law and chaos beyond that which Nethys would consider right. If Keeya can help me do this, she will repay anything that is owed, but it agonizes me that she thinks there is a debt to be paid. How could she ever consider me anything but a burden now? If my heart aches for her, I see now that it is likely never to be requited.

What will my future hold after Promise? Will I ever see any of my family again? I like to think so, but perhaps that is the petulant denial of a child and not the pragmatic realism of the adult I wish to be.

The airship ride was marvelous! The gnomes, of which I had only ever met a few, were so confident and capable and deft with their magical propulsion and steering. I’m sure I annoyed more than a few with my questions, but no matter, for the magic is AMAZING, and I had to figure it out. I can’t wait until I am able to master the spells of flight and overland travel. Such freedom!

Spending time with Neleryn and Nelethiel (is she EVER not by his side) was also enjoyable. Neleryn IS arrogant, but I suspect some of that is not actually arrogance but insecurity. Still, he is a talented swordsman and wielder of arcane energy. Seems a waste to even bother with arms when the pure energy of magic is sufficient, but not everyone understands the true value of things. Speaking Elven with them was both a joy and brought me sadness, reminding me constantly of my family. Neleryn was very gracious in sharing his spell book with me, and I hope he found some value in mine, though none of mine were Evocation. A whole month of reading and scribing scrolls! Such a pleasure! I suspect it will be the longest stretch I have to do that for months, perhaps even years. We head towards such danger and turmoil that thoughtful study and writing may already be a thing of the past.

Barca and Auctus are an odd couple of friends, but I wouldn’t want the big boy swinging his club at me, that’s for sure! He’s a bit impetuous and possibly easy to manipulate, so I will have to make sure people don’t take advantage of his naivety and temper. Auctus is a pedant, but I must admit, he is right about much. His knowledge is extensive, and I hope to learn from him, but that boy better learn some humility or he is headed for a fall. Balance in all things!

I am eager to learn sign language so that I might better communicate with Riva. She is perfectly fluent in the spoken word, but it only seems courteous to learn how to speak with her in her fashion and not expect her to have to do all the hard work of interpreting lips and body language. Plus, I am eager to see if my theory that sign language could underpin arcane soma theory is true. Who knows, perhaps becoming fluent in it would help my casting become more efficient, powerful, and graceful? Ivan annoys me, but he’s just so friendly it’s impossible not to forgive him each time. I don’t like how he pursues Keeya — she’s just another possible conquest for him! Thankfully, she doesn’t reciprocate any affection. He’s just so handsome…I know I can’t compete with that aspect of courting.

And our new companions, Locura and Draegan seem like good folk. The half-orc is a bit flowery and ostentatious, but by all rights seems possessed of both strength of arm and divine power. The same goes for Draegan, though he is much more introverted than the half-orc. Maybe he is ashamed of his half-breed status. I hope not. There is a place for all in Golarion.

Arriving in Kenebres was odd. So many specimens of humanity FAR down the scale of breeding and training than what I have been accustomed to as part of the Glorious Endeavor. These rejects are meant to save the world from demons? My work looks like it will be harder than even I thought, if I am to be surrounded by drunkards and liars like that Aron fellow we tangled with tonight. It is a good lesson in sensing the motives of those one meets, however. In Promise, truth was expected and given far more often than not. Here, well, I don’t know. I’m glad I followed my instinct and Teleryn’s prompting though. I think Aron would have led us to our depths in the sewers if we had followed him.

And I got to cast my first spells in actual combat! Glitterdust is INCREDIBLE! I felt bad for blinding Locura, but Aron was blinded too, so perhaps that was Nethys at work in more ways than one! Ha! Grease didn’t do what I had hoped, but the Web spell gave us a chance to hold on to the nimble bastard. But the others failed rather spectacularly in detaining him, after I gave our group a fighting (literally) chance! I hope they learned as much about their strengths and weaknesses in combat as I did. I will do my best to aid them in future battles, as I am not yet strong enough to win most on my own yet. Someday, though, I believe I shall.

Until then, we must share with Irabeth our encounter with and knowledge of Aron. I hope she will judge our actions fairly. I hope my companions will keep the greater mission in mind and not fall prey to distractions. We have demons to face in our futures, and futures which depend on not making the number and kind of mistakes we made tonight!

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Lokura's Journal 1
Notes for Report to Queen Galfrey

Wealday 17 Erastus, The Sea

Our year-long stay in Promise, on the island of Hermea in the Steaming Sea, has finally come to an end! After tedious and delicate negotiations with the dragon Mengkare, we finally recruited a small team of exiles from the island. Were these worth the the expenses — our long stay, the immense cost of food and travel, not to mention the potential for recruiting greater numbers closer to home? In exchange for what must have been a Queen’s ransom, these were supposedly Hermea’s best, but who knows what scales a dragon uses in its trades?

For the record, our company includes: Barca Sechabo, a fearless young Mwangi boy almost as big as me, and his knowledgeable companion Auctus Urdela; Kyrk Xathariel, an inquisitive tiefling wizard, and his sylph companion Keeya Olinva; Riva Tallix, a soft-spoken woman, deaf in her ears but who listens to spirits, and her young brother Ivan; a pair of elves by the names of Neleryn and Nelethiel Amakiir (these two did not address me, and their language was far too complex to pick up — perhaps in later studies); and a half dozen or so Kenabres infantry and diplomats, with whom I have *N*ever *P*roperly *C*onversed.

We departed yesterday a week after Erastil’s feast, though no one celebrates holidays on Hermea — a dour bunch, living under the thumb of that dragon. Our mode is a fantastical gnomish airboat kept afloat by fey magic, like Zarzuket’s Zeplin come to life! Some of our company asked endless questions of our pilots, but I was too overwhelmed by the simple beauty of watching sunrises and sunsets from high in the clouds, and the endlessly joyful perspective of ocean and lands far below, the tiny roads and farms and villages and cities. And the cold! Even in late summer, the high frigid winds bit deep into our ears and fingers.

Starday 27 Erastus, Orclands, Belkzen

It took us nearly a week to reach land from the distant island, and as we entered the bay we flew directly over Korvosa! From there, we must have nearly mirrored my mother’s path when she traveled from her homeland so long ago. I hope to ask her someday, and thrill the old queens with tales of my travels! I wonder if old Miravu ever traveled by airboat?

On our month-long journey we watched the moon fill and fail, and I sang the Melodies out into the open sky. Riva entertained herself with shenanigans wherein she convinced Major-General Gladbags to build her a telescope out of pieces of the airboat. Fortunately for us all, the cook did not share Gladbags’ enthusiasm.

From Korvosa, we sailed north along the edge of the Mindspin Mountains. Barca joked about needing an umbrella in the Wastes. I can only pray to the Songbird and the Protector and every other power of good — both known and unknown — that he will still want to joke after our first storm.

Gladbags tells me that we will pass directly over Urgir, and then head straight for my old home!

Moonday 5 Arodus, West Sellen, Numeria

I almost wished to jump out in Karcau, but I have given my word to Queen Galfrey, and it would have been a long fall into the lake. I will inquire about sending a message to my mother. Perhaps now that I am settled we can correspond or she can take some time for a visit.

Oathday 8 Arodus, West Sellen, Mendev

As if by design, we crossed into Mendev on First Crusader Day, and will follow the West Sellen all the way to Kenabres, as I have done so many times on foot. These last few days of our journey have passed more slowly than the weeks had passed before. From our high vantage point, I could see the sickening wasteland of old Sarkoris, and all of us — even the tiefling — spent our last week in morose silence.

Fireday 9 Arodus, Kenabres, Mendev

Once again as if by portentous design, we reach Kenabres on the Day of Silenced Whispers. The holiday is a much grander commemoration back home in Karcau. In Mendev it is merely a ramp-up of daily-increasing fervor for the high holy day of Armasse.

The honor guard that met us included my colleague Draegan, and Commander Irabeth. She did not seem pleased by our small numbers, or perhaps it was the presence of a hellspawn. Tieflings are treated poorly in Kenabres — but as the curtain pullers used to say: the queerer the ears, the louder the cheers. And besides, it is inner beauty that radiates outward, not the other way around.

After a typically cold Mendevian welcome, we dug in at a civilian townhouse in the Ring District with a mission to observe: to look for any signs of strange behavior. Ivan seemed to take to it immediately, mimicking the local styles, accents, and body language with great ease, while the poor Sylph Keeya was uncomfortable as ever. I invited her to visit some of the beautiful places of Kenabres, but at this she withdrew even further. I suppose she will sing her song in her own time. She does warm a bit to Ivan, but I suspect he is merely clanging his bell to attract her, for it is clear that he does not know True Beauty.

Sunday 11 Arodus, Kenabres, Mendev

We spent a few days wandering around the city, until one evening Draegan and I happened upon Aron Kir, whom we knew from the Kenabres Wolves. He was nearly dead drunk, incoherent and vomiting. I believe he had been drugged, but exactly how I could not detect with the skills taught me by old Miravu. We took him to the temple, along with the Mwangi and a few others.

Faced with typical Mendevian beaurocratic apathy I let my temper get the better of me and convinced them — rather fiercely — to remove his drunken condition. Aron came to his senses and quickly gathered us into a dark alley and asked me to cover my light, which I did not like, but the city guards passed us by. Better for them to pass a night or two breaking up bar fights than to find me with my ears steaming. I am after all a priest of the Gentle Lady — not some crass, eye-gouging Belkzen tribesman.

Aron was not in his right mind. He was obsessed with finding Horgus Gwerm, a noble who deals arms to the crusaders. But he did not wish for us to seek help. He acted like one who had tasted Ustalavan marshflowers on a new moon. I suspected that this Horgus supplied him with more than arms. After much prodding he admitted that he had been ejected from the Wolves. He asked Draegen to find a Wolf named Corain, with the message that he (Aron) would “make it right”. He would not elaborate on this.

While ranting, Aron threw his silver drinking flask on the ground, and ignored me when I tried to hand it back to him. Finally, when our party had gathered, he took us to the old ruined mansion in the Gate District. Here he had some tale that the mongrels had taken Horgus and wanted us to accompany him to the underground to help negotiate the noble’s return. Our company was not in agreement about this. The elves in particular voiced their opposition, but I could not understand their language to listen to their wisdom. Finally, Aron stormed into the old house without us. To keep him safe, we followed, and Riva tricked him into doubling back for us, at which point Barca grabbed him and we attempted to drag him out. This Aron did not like, and he gave Barca a nasty cut with his thin blades. Not wanting to hurt him, we disarmed him and continued to drag him out, hoping to give him a sober night in the barracks brig, but he escaped neatly. Kyrk sniffed the air in search of a trail, but he was gone.

We returned to our apartments, I with Aron’s weapons and flask. Kenabres is no place for a disarmed mercenary — or a sober mercenary, for that matter — and I do hope we find him soon, and in better spirits.

I suspect we will get an earful from Irabeth. I do not fear her. I have stood before the Tower. I know how easily madness can overtake a soldier, and I will do everything in my power to protect a comrade from such a fate. And with Shelyn’s luck, I will have the opportunity to lead Aron back to the true beauty.

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