Last Stand of the 5th Crusade

Cohort Logs: 12 Rova 4713

Auctus

This trek through the Riftshadow has taken its toll on us. We are tired and dirty, but most of all, we are aware now fully aware of the dangers of this land. I can see now why the crusaders have made no progress pushing back the expanse of this region, content with only holding it at bay. I have thought in my mind that this evil surely could be pushed back by the combined might of Mendev, but now I see the battles they face. It is not only the demons, but the land itself that causes the greatest danger. I recall stories from my father of the jungles in the Mwangi and how the people learned to live with nature, simply because nature would not learn to live with such insignificant beings as man. The Abyss is the same. The demons are the insects germinate chaos in the hearts of man, a foul reality indeed, but it is the land the finally breaks a crusaders will to allow the chaos to take hold. The disease that infests the water and land, the poisons dripping from each demonic carrier and the unrelenting weather that beats out all hope with ash and nails. To overcome this threat, man truly needs heroes to rally behind that can give hope when all hope is lost.

I truly hope the Heroes of Kenabres can do what the Queen hopes. They left weeks ago to reclaim the dwarven citadel of Drezen, an impossible task. But if they can do it, if they can defeat the demons so deep in the Wounded Lands, I think we just might have a chance.

Ivan

Two weeks and we finally have reached civilization, at least I hope. Raliscrad stands before us on the other side of the river. There are small docks on each side with boats to ferry people across. The soldiers look loyal to the demonic hoard, and most likely Minagho. We will have to tread carefully from this point forward. Strength of arms will not see us through the next few days, but cunning and blending in will. This is finally my time to shine.
I will admit, I have felt impotent these past few weeks. Watching Auctus interacting with everyone, he really is brilliant. If his father is anything like him, I can understand why he holds a position on the Council of Enlightenment. Auctus knows so much about, well, everything. He knows of the land, the creatures, the history of objects, and beyond that, he can fight! He threw bombs that decimated these werewolf soldiers, granted he hurt that paladins too, but I can understand his strategy. Keeya also is becoming quite useful. Not only can she turn invisible… INVISIBLE, but she can increase or decrease anyone’s height. Amazing. She can see through fog and more importantly, she has learned to gleam information off items held by our enemies. This is very useful and I am already learning all she can tell me about the people we are to meet. I will soon become one of them and lead our group safely into the demon’s den.

Keeya

Kyrk is growing colder as we move deeper into this country. His time spent with me is diminishing with each new arcane discovery written in his books, although I cannot blame him. He is banished from his home land and the eyes of the few who could understand him still burn with blame of Neleryn and Nelethiel. Auctus is blind to all of this, as usual. His mind full of the minutia of the world he is missing what stands directly in front of him. Ivan suspects, but tells me to give Kyrk and the others time. I laughed at this, a boy of his age reminding me of time, but he is correct. Thankfully, I have much to occupy myself with, and the battle today gave me much insight on tomorrow’s events.

The suspected holy men hunted by the lycanthropes, one paladin and one thief dressed in holy armor. When I touched their items, each one gave me a picture and insight of what has transpired over the past few days. After going through their gear, I believe that both men were running for their lives escaping from holding cells, surrounded by hewn stone. I feel this must be underground since it was cold, wet and lit only by torches. There were many prisoners, dozens if not more. One cell was filled with hybrid werewolves, possibly recently turned, about a half dozen. The guards all wore symbols of Baphomet.

From the hunters, I viewed a singular man, a natural werewolf, but he wasn’t a man, he was different in some way: wider, stronger and pointed ears. I spoke with Auctus and he believes I am describing a bugbear, a sick and demented type of goblin. What could we possibly be walking into?

Arueshalae

Can you hear me? What are you? Human? I feel a multitude of souls surrounding a singular being, but I cannot make you out. Can you feel me in your dreams as I can feel you? Is it warm?

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Saved by "Stone" the Gargoyle?
Kyrk's Journal 7

We had spent the night resting in an abandoned structure near Riverkeep on the edge of the mostly ruined city of Storasta. My companions were wracked by disease and poison, and their low moans of discomfort and anxiety had threatened to ruin my sleep — luckily I had my earplugs and was able to get the sleep I needed to prepare my spells in the morning. I suppose that seems callous — cutting myself off from the agony of my friends — but if I have learned one thing since leaving Promise (and I have learned MANY things), it’s that empathy and human connection sometimes must take lower priority than the practicality of preparedness. Not being prepared, especially as we approach the Worldwound, could easily result in any of us dying…or worse. If I am to do anything to help this party, and our mission, I will need to take advantage of each and every moment I have of rest or quiet so as to marshal my arcane resources. Storasta is a creepy place, and a rain of fingernails on our second day there, did nothing to improve our mood, but I was able to scribe a scroll.

And hail to Glitterdust — that most wonderful and useful spell! For when two gargoyles poked their stony heads through the window of our hiding place, I was able to cast it quickly and blind both of them! After that, it was just a matter of seconds before our group was able to subdue one into unconsciousness and make the other flee. And I am so glad that I listened to the little voice in my head, if not necessarily of mercy, but of practicality that made me urge my fellow party members to spare the gargoyle’s life and attempt to parley with it. And stupid though he was, the gargoyle who called himself “Stone” proved to be as helpful, if not THE most helpful, creature we have encountered in our travels thus far. Riva did a masterful bit of diplomacy, combined with a taste of one of her trail rations, and soon Stone was giving us valuable information on the treeants and other dangerous denizens of the city. And even more importantly, he gave us 10 masterwork backpacks full of that which we most needed — antitoxins and antiplagues! I tried not to think about the the 10 crusaders who had lost their lives for us to benefit from their possessions, but without those supplies, we would not have been able to heal our diseased and poisoned. And without that healing, at least one or more of us would have died, of that I am sure.

Stone’s information allowed us to skirt the city in the safest way possible, avoiding monsters living and dead, as well as conserving our resources and saving us time getting to our eventual rendezvous point. By casting Levitate on Barca and Fly on myself, we were able to get our entire party safely across the river avoiding any danger. It was most satisfying to use my magic in such a fashion.

We were able to get to a long ridge and traveled for days, hunkering down through ash storms, 70 miles per hour winds, and thick oily fog. Thankfully, Keeya could see through the fog and keep us safe and aware of any threats. We even fought mist drakes on the 8th day of Rova, but performed well as a fighting unit and triumphed over them. By the 12th day, we had reached the edges of Ralinskrad, just across the river from it. It was there that we encountered 2 crusaders (paladins) fleeing from 4 lycanthropic worshippers of Baphomet. We were able to kill or chase off the lycanthropes, and managed to capture one in the process as well as save one of the paladins. Both are unconscious now, and it’s clear that the paladin has been infected with lycanthropy. We don’t know if we will be able to save him, but we hope to do what we can for him and question our prisoner before entering the city where Minagho resides. Perhaps those with whom we are too meet before going into the city, will have resources to help the paladin.

All of us must be strong for the next phase of our mission — however weakened Minagho may be, she is still a mighty demon and a great threat. I hope I and my companions are able to defeat her without casualties on our part.

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Cohort Log: 31 Arodus 4713

Auctus

The sun is setting and Keeya is preparing a scouting trip to find more suitable accommodations. The ceiling is low in this basement, only 5 feet due to all the dirt carried in by past floods: wet dirt. I am severely weakened by the poison coursing through my veins, as well as something worse. Ivan believes me to be afflicted with demon plague. If that is the case, soon I will become contagious and threaten the lives of everyone here. For the fate of us all, it might be best if I am left here during the incubation of this aflliction to see if I am able to fight it off. Locke surely will be able to give me care. I will not risk the lives of everyone here.

Even with my state, Riva is in the worst shape. She is severely poisoned and cannot move. Ivan is feeding her by placing small droplets into her mouth and massaging her throat. He is complaining of burning in his eyes and that even in the brightest light we can muster that the room is getting dark. The Blinding Sickness is taking hold, I am certain. Locke said that Riva also shares this fate. Barca is also poisoned, but not as bad. I am without fear that he will recover in a few days. We need rest, if only a few days to recover. If we planned correctly, we will all walk out of here alive.

Ivan

My eyes, they burn so much! My vision is getting weaker, but I must stay strong. Riva is in such pain, I fear for her. I can not truly tell if she is asleep or not, or what she could possibly be trying to convey. She is completely paralyzed, unable to drink, eat or even whisper. I can see her eyes respond a bit, but they are sick. A cloud is moving over them and her sight is fading as quickly as mine. I do not know what to do, but I am certain I am done being this powerless. I am going to learn how to heal and how to better deal with poisons; it’s time we learn how to use this to our advantage.

In the meantime, all I can do is sing to Riva. I hold her tight and sing the songs our mother sang to us. Yes, she cannot hear my words, but I am certain she can feel the vibrations from my voice, and somehow, this might bring comfort to the hell she is in.

Keeya

I am ready to go out into the city. Everyone has risked life and limb for us, but I have not yet proven my worth: I am ready. Ever since Nelethiel’s death, I have felt powerless. I look now at the ring Neleryn graciously gave me and it gives me hope and purpose. She was so very strong and I want that. I need that. I look at Kyrk, confused and still in disbelief of this single creature that devastated us, and I want to make him proud. I want him to feel his sacrifice for me was worth all he as lost.

I will leave and find us safe refuge for the next few days. Ivan wanted to come with me, but I can see in his heart he does not want to leave his sister. The love that exists for his sister is something I have not seen for such a long time. Kyrk used to look at me in a similar way, but that has faded for his books and knowledge. I am sure it’s just him dealing with loss and the horrible torture he endured. Before, I found his approaches to be flattering, but truly unwanted. My heart is still with my husband, rest his soul, but, at the same time, I find myself missing Kyrk’s stares. Ivan continues to flirt with me, but he is so young, so inexperienced with life. I am losing focus. I need to be strong and help. I need my thoughts to be strong and not aloof. I will find us a place of sanctuary and deal with my emotions later. I will follow Kyrk’s lead and be focus for his sake, and the sake of all others here.

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The Battle of Defender's Heart
Locke's Journal

We managed to traverse across the city to Defender’s Heart. Funny to think that just a few weeks ago I was babysitting Trynna and the some of the Wolves while they sat here and finished ALL of the ale. Now, it is a keep worthy of it’s name.

It was good to see the Queen as well as Commander Irabeth are still standing strong. The Queen gave several rousing speeches that helped keep the morale of the men strong. We will need all the morale we can get in these dark times. We have to stay strong.

THe Heroe’s of Kenabres departed on what seemed a very important task assigned to them. The Queen and the Commander have put a lot of faith in these individuals. I pray to Iomedae to guide them on the right path to save this City.

I was downstairs helping tend to the sick when I was suddenly summoned by the Queen. When I got upstairs, there was a familiar face being apprehended by the guards. Faxon had sought me out to deliver a grave message. Minagho was on her way to take down Defender’s Heart. Faxon begged and pleaded with me to save him from being cast back out into the city where Minagho would come for him. I wish I could have saved him. The Queen ordered that he be released but not let inside Defender’s Heart. If only he hadn’t charmed me to try to manipulate me, maybe I could have spoken to the Queen on his behalf.

Minagho, with a small army of demons and corrupted men, marched on Defender’s Keep. We did our best to defend it but we were overwhelmed by the demons. Many men and citizens were slaughtered, but the Queen held strong. THe few of us left managed to keep the lesser demons at bay while the Queen battled Minagho. Things were looking grim, but then something completely unexpected happened. Baphomet appeared before us and struck Minagho in rage. He said that Minagho had “failed him for the last time”. Lucky for us, a wounded Minagho retreated but she will still have to be dealt with. Perhaps the Heroes of Kenabres succeeded in their mission. And just in time too!

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Riva: The Wanderer

The_Wanderer.jpg

The Wanderer collects what others discard.
As he walks among worlds with eyes truly seeing,
This centaur can spot things that others regard
As junk or as trash, for they miss their true meaning.
One who sees hidden worth may be blessed by this card,
So roam on, Oh wanderer! And good luck in your seeking!
Yet a misaligned Wanderer signifies the loss
Of one’s values or of fortune your path may have crossed.

The Wanderer. Such a relief to draw that card last night, despite drawing it inverted. Like waiting at the crossroads for an unknown stranger, then finding upon meeting that he’s an old friend. Mama always loved this card turning up in her readings. Its message of knowledge hidden in plain sight holds a special place in the heart of any harrower.

I remember her teaching me this card’s song. It was winter. It must have been right after my twelfth birthday, because I’d had my own deck for a year about then. Ivan was in bed already, and dad was up on the roof making an observation, I think. That left Mama and me, bundled up and sitting by the fire. She was telling me stories about the deck. No, stories isn’t the right word. I didn’t fully appreciate it at the time, but she was passing on the spirit of the Harrow, as mother had passed it to daughter for countless centuries before. That was one of the most perfect moments of my life, a moment of so much love and hope and family. That last year was perfect in so many ways, right up to that day in the park.

She was teaching me about the origins of the Harrow. Scholars say it’s some 10,000 years old, created in old Thassilon. But Mama said that anyone with “eyes truly seeing” can spot the handwriting of its creators, and that this card’s zeal for travel, the blessing that it conveys to those who wander, is a sure sign of its creation by the sages of the ancient Varisian caravans, roaming the unspoilt homeland back in the days and nights when Desna walked among them. She probably shouldn’t have told me that. Mama was always looking for small rebellions!

And to be free of that thing calling itself Aunt Livia, twisting my every thought! Can it be true? My father had an illegitimate sister? I know enough of Taldane to realize that Nothus is a surname given to bastards, and from the small and bitter bits that Dad spoke of my grandfather I would believe it. I need to keep myself together. I can’t let myself be controlled by these ghosts.

Yet now, with the Wanderer’s pure good card, Galea Vahnwyn is with me. I felt her presence all day today, and after yesterday’s horrors it was such a comfort. I could feel her powers flowing through me. During the battle, I could see the lives of the people around me, just knowing at a glance how wounded they were. And when I healed them, I could feel that warm surge of positive energy more strongly than ever before. The power of these spirits is growing, no doubt. For good or for ill.

Still, I can’t forget that I drew the card inverted. “A misaligned Wanderer signifies the loss / Of one’s values.” A rebuke for yesterday — oh gods yesterday, forgive me. I slit the throats of defenseless captives. I can say that this Aunt Livia made me do it, but no, that’s not true. She may have been whispering in my ear, but they are my hands soaked in blood. I will never forget it. I never should. The first one was so quick. He was unconscious. I wasn’t prepared for how much blood there would be, how it would rhythmically gush from his neck. The second one opened his eyes. He spoke to me, but I was so focused on the task at hand that I didn’t even see what he was saying. I just remember his eyes, desperate and pleading. I wish I could say that one was harder, but that voice, it was like it was part of me. But it was still my hand and my will that flicked the knife. I am so sorry.

A demon, a succubus, possessed me today. Compelled me to strike down my companions. It was horrid to feel her presence, all seduction and command, controlling me. But in some ways a relief. How many times have I felt these foreign things in my mind, not knowing what was me and what was them? Bearing the full guilt of the actions they compelled, like the stains from the blood of those guards. Here I just watched. It was a horror to watch, but for once it was not me. I fought her, but she was stronger, and so I simply watched, knowing that whatever happened, it was not my actions. After all this — a relief.

I need to be stronger. Against the demons, true, but most of all against the spirits. I now know they are tied to the deck. I need to be ready for them, come what may. So far I’ve seen:

Galea Vahnwyn, my old friend who got me through so many times at the hospital, a healer of mind and body. She is from the old country. Sometimes she speaks to me of Desna. Mama would approve.

That thing called Livia Pulcheria Nothus. Cunning and evil and legalistic. Aunt or not, I have no doubt that she ties to my Chelaxian heritage. I could feel spell powers utterly unfamiliar, but I dared not use them.

When I drew the Crows, something else. An evil presence. The chill of death. The spirits weren’t strong enough to reach me then, but I dread its return. Something about it was familiar.

“The loss of one’s values.” I need help. I need to share this with Ivan. He’ll understand. I should share it with the others as well. They’ve come to depend on me. We’ve come to depend on each other. I need to trust them with this.

I need to start telling them my story.

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The Defense of Defender's Heart
Kyrk's Journal 6

The appearance of traitorous Faxon. Then, his humiliation as Minagho appears with a squad of charmed crusaders and mercenaries. An epic battle between us an all the underlings with civilian casualties and the death, sadly, of the brave Lokura. Then another conflict as Minagho, herself, entered the fray! And, finally, the intervention of the demon lord Baphomet which saved us from certain death at the claws of Minagho! I can still feel the adrenaline coursing through my veins and the arcane energies of Nethys pulsing throughout my very soul.

And, at last, do I feel like I rose to the necessity of the moment on the battlefield. The fight was terrifying at times, and yet I kept my composure, selected the spells and scrolls most likely to be effective at the moment (save my poor, practically useless Aqueous Orb — who knew those blasted creatures could safely Airwalk out of the way?!), and never once lost my focus on aiding my allies. I wish I could have saved some of the townsfolk who bravely resisted the invading demons, but, sadly, I had to prioritize offense over defense — action vs. reaction. I lost track of how much arcane energy I expended or consumed — 20 spells? 25? It will take days to replenish my inventory. But such a glorious feeling! This is what I was meant to do, and I am thankful for the lessons I absorbed and put to good use, and thankful that my allies could protect me in the process.

And what a difference a day made in terms of Riva! She was like a different person today — generous with her healing magic and much more social. I did have a somewhat tense conversation with her about the things which seem to plague her. I hope I didn’t greatly offend her when I told her straight out that her “affliction” meant I would have to be on alert for the presence or influence of demons. It did seem to bother her, but it had to be said, and I’m glad I did. I hope her will will be strong enough to resist that which visits her each day, apparently. And, for all our sakes, I hope she is stronger in the future when confronted by a threat like that succubus! Riva could have killed Barca, or any of us, if we hadn’t taken such aggressive action to put her down. She is a fearsome archer, as the lingering discomfort in my torso from her arrow can attest. Thankfully, I had Shocking Grasp and the oversize grasp of Barca to neutralize her in the moment. I hope that I will be able to resist any such threat, as I shudder to think how I could harm my friends if I had been affected like Riva.

Both Barca and Locke continue to amaze me with their martial prowess. I hope Riva and I can continue to keep them safe and multiply their effectiveness in battle.

What an experience it was to hear the peals of thunder and see the skies darken as Baphomet made his presence known. For the Heroes of Kenebres to have destroyed the broken wardstone in time for it to enrage Baphomet and punish Minagho for it, was truly a miraculous occurrence. It appears as though her powers have been greatly reduced, and that an expedition to finish her off before they return, is the best course of action to take according to the Riftwardens and town elders.

We have not yet been told how we will travel or how long the journey to her stronghold, but with the wardstone down, I am sure it will be perilous. We have eight days to prepare, and I plan to use each one searching for new spells to add to my spell book and scribing a spell a day. I am hoping to find, at a minimum, Fly and See Invisibility. I don’t have much gold, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that one of our allies from the Defender’s Heart battle (there was an arcane caster there, though I haven’t gotten his name yet) will be willing to share spell books so that I don’t have to buy them outright. Failing that, perhaps Irabeth will be able to direct me to a seller of magic.

And if I can find nothing new, I will work with what I have and get both Riva and I ready for the journey and foes we face in but over a week’s time. Hopefully, I will find a quiet place to think and scribe. And no more demons, please, while I work — hah!

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Riva: The Rakshasa

The_Rakshasa.jpg

The Rakshasa brings dominance and the mind’s control,
While sitting serenely on the back of a slave.
Though seemingly civilized he binds up the soul
And bends it and breaks it to his will and his way.
This card may be literal, though it reminds us the toll
Of mental enslavement to a force or idea.
When slave’s above master the meaning’s reversed
And new information can help cast off this curse.

When I drew the Rakshasa last midnight I did not share it with others. There is too much terrible meaning here. I feel the grip of this thing grow tighter around my mind, and as cracks form under its pressure the spirits slip in. I can wonder how they. I stared north last night I saw. It was cloudy, smokey, nothing was there but it was there. Keeya was there, I was glad she was there with. I told her about what I had seen what I had done and wept for those killed, I can understand Ivan’s fear but we need to fight on. It is hard. Keeya was there, I was glad. She —

Those idiots and their pathetic gods and codes. How I grow to loathe them. Ah the Rakshasa. Yes, the cards speak truth.

We were on the verge of accomplishing our mission. We had in hand a thorough ledger of corruption in Kenabres — precisely our goal when we arrived, not two weeks ago, for which we had traveled so far! And it was easy. It truly makes me doubt the competence of our overseers, struggling so long against these corrupting influences, when we could seize these records after such a short time. My companions were not useful in darkness, but they do not possess my strengths. My bow did much to finish off the Blackfire sorcerer and force surrender of the tiefling witch that calls itself Faxon. And upon surrender he made a foolish bargain for life that by its very words was trivially voided. These pitborn beasts should know better: the rule of the contract runs through their blood. But that fool!

Alas there was a fool greater. Locke, who has enslaved himself to these paladin precepts. There is the real meaning of the card! He extended every pitiful measure of leniency to that creature. I should have killed the tiefling right there. I could have. But I made the mistake of asking my other companions their choice, assuming that they would be receptive to reason and logic. Lokura listened. He is a good soldier. Barca held the tiefling fast. He too is useful.

Oh but Kyrk. Kyrk, who had the benefit of a Promise education. Who is ostensibly the intelligent one. He is a coward. He begged for that pact when he was blind, and yet when his vision was restored he was blinder still. The Templar tiefling categorically did not tell us all he knew — on the contrary, he was extraordinarily unhelpful for one with its life on the line! A clear breach. Moreover, freeing him renders much of our gain here useless! How many traitors did he warn? How many escaped who might otherwise have been captured? How many will use that knowledge to set traps for those who would bring them to justice? Do we walk into a trap right now, at this inn?

Locke’s code and Kyrk’s cowardice could kill us all.

And then the matter of the captured guards and Blackfire Adept. The others would do nothing, though to let them live endangers far more lives than three, and three forfeit lives at that. They too knew of the secrets we carried. Of course Kyrk would strip them of all their meaningful possessions and set them out on a street of a demon plagued city! But to kill them? No, that would be oh, oh so wrong. I slit their throats. It was the right thing to do.

Dear fates. What have I done? I can’t do this any more. Ivan was right. This isn’t our fight and we don’t belong here.

Oh silence your wretched whimpering, child. You made a pact to come here and fight. You cannot go back.

Who —

Someone who cares about you very much. My given name is Livia Pulcheria Nothus — but I rightfully should have been called Livia Tallix. You can call me Aunt Livia.

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V. Purpose
Barca's journal 0.4

Together once again. It seems like weeks have passed since our original hodgepodge from Hermea has been all together; if only under better circumstances; one dead, one leaving, two traumatized…
I need to be strong for them, I have felt the physical advantage these powers inside me can have on these devils. I’m not exactly sure what is causing it, but my blood warms, I can feel an extra surge of energy when I put these outsiders down, and it adds some sense that I was meant to be here. I have one real friend in this world, but the harsh experiences we have endured together has begun to endear the others to me, and knowing I have this added strength, I will make it my duty to do my part in protecting them.

Auctus’ newfound confidence and station among the local resistance is a welcome, if surprising change. I never fully understood our purpose or mission here, but after recovering those documents and realizing the implications of their contents, it has lit a fire in me to know there are those in the city who facilitated this destruction. They are not safe.

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Kenebres regroups
Kyrk's Journal 5

It took all the mental fortitude I had not to beg my companions to give that damn Tiefling Templar anything he wanted in exchange for dismissing his Blindness spell! That was terrifying. I thought that damn Lokura was going to cut off his head — impetuous fool. Thankfully, the negotiations staggered to a reasonable close. We got the information we sought on the double-agents in Kenebres and all of us escaped with our lives. Even the Tiefling, but so be it. He failed to protect his information, so I suspect he will not soon be approaching his former leadership for protection or more work. Especially if it was the demon Minagho (sp?) that we THANKFULLY didn’t engage with (despite Locke’s instinctual response to try to save the humans being implanted with demon eggs!) on our way to the Tower. We have been told she is in the upper reaches of power and influence, so it would have been death or worse to have made any move against her. The point being, I doubt the Tiefling will want to face her wrath.

The Backfire Adept and the Tiefling did shut me down quite quickly, I hate to say. Finally, though, I have learned some new spells that could dramatically tilt the battlefield in our favor next time: Haste and Dispel Magic! Plus, now that I have had time to read Millorn’s spell book, there are more than a few spells that I expect to use quite frequently.

We’ve been in this city for so few days, and yet it seems a lifetime ago that I was in Hermea, smug in my supposed arcane knowledge and prowess. Bah! Have I learned more than one hard knock lesson to the contrary. I know SO LITTLE! But my power is growing, as is that of my comrades. I don’t trust Lokura’s judgment, and I hope he will find tasks that suit him more than accompanying us Hermeans. Locke, however, is growing on me. The sword he now wield is a marvel of adaptive magic! To switch to practically ANY weapon within seconds means he can fight a range, with reach, close-in, etc — with the same enchantments and no extra weight or bulk to carry around. Very special, and I hope he will let me study it when (or if) we ever have downtime in which I am not furiously scribing scrolls for the days and weeks ahead.

I feel better that there is still a nucleus of defenders within Kenebres who are already starting to regroup and plan for the rebuilding/securing of the city. I hope the information we provided is valuable in rooting out the corruption within the current ranks, and perhaps will shed more light on the methods the Templars use in general. That Tiefling certainly isn’t the last of them we will face, of that I am sure.

I worry greatly for Neleryn, though, and hope he will rejoin us soon, not just in body but in spirit. If he wallows in grief, he might never emerge from the depths of despair. Keeya has also been wounded psychologically — I hope I can provide comfort and support to her. We have such a challenging, for me at least, relationship. I want to be her friend first and foremost, but it’s hard not to give in to my more romantic proclivities. She’s never shown any interest in the latter, so I best keep those thoughts and feelings as submerged and non-intrusive as I can.

I worry about Riva. She seemed to take a dark turn in the past 24 hours. I know it’s more than just the stress of the general situation we face and her concern for Ivan. I fear she is battling emotional forces within her as well, perhaps, as outside energies. If the latter, I hope they are not demonic! I will reach out to her to see if there is anything I can do to help, so it’s possible that any intervention I attempt will just drive her away. I really don’t do well with personal relationships, do I?

Well, if I’m unable to provide emotional support to my friends and comrades, I hope that they will find solace in the arcane energies I will be nurturing and bringing to the fore for the benefit of all of us.

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Cohort Logs 19 Arodus 4713

Ivan

The past few days have weighed heavy on my heart. I continue to think what is my purpose and I am wracked with self doubt and worry. Auctus spoke with me a few times and has reminded me of my place, not my worth but my duty. He speaks with a newly discovered wisdom and purpose; his cocky nature and air of self importance vanish and replaced with focus and pride, or possibly my perception of his actions have changed in light of him truly finding his place in this crusade. For the first time, I am inspired by his actions and his knowledge. I want to people to view me with the same respect and admiration I am viewing him. I will do what he clearly said: Stand up and walk or fall and die, but make a choice, we have no time for weakness.

He is not a man of soothing words, but this is not a place for nurturing.

Keeya

Holding this quill is of no comfort this morning. I can clearly hear the screams of women, children and soldiers outside and the quiet nightmares of my friends in here. Riva is hearing voices and Kyrk is running from them. In addition, my powers are growing in frightful ways. I can now summon small creatures for a short time, and when I touch objects… they speak to me. I need guidance. I truly hope we can have a moment of peace. If anyone can hear my thoughts, or my prayers if that is truly a thing, please hear me now: help us.

Auctus

Kenabres is destroyed and thousands of people are dead or displaced. All of the knowledge at their fingertips and powerless to stop the tides of the abyssal horde from overrunning the city and threatening the boundaries of both Mendev and all of northern Avistan. In the rubble, among the bodies of both innocent and corrupt, I am witnesses the rise of duty and strength. Not just of arcane and divine might, but of loyal fortitude and the will to hope. In the past few days, I have seen destruction that will be the source of a hundred songs, but the worst was what remained of my companions. Kyrk, Neleryn, Keeya and Ivan are all broken. Their souls slammed against the hardest substance and they did not rebound intact.

Ivan is pulling himself together, he is listening to the words of my father flowing through my lips. He looks on to Riva and knows if he is not a beam of support, her strength to control the spirits will overtake her. Keeya can barely voice a thought, but her eyes speak of horrors I fear in my dreams. What she witnessed by the hands of the Babau is haunting her, as well as her panic and fear that night at the gate when poor Nelethiel fell. Neleryn is secretly packing his things, I believe he is leaving for a time; I do not blame him. And finally Kyrk, he has faced the worst of the torture and I have no idea if he recalls all of the experiences. I have read of men suppressing memories of trauma, only to see it slowly surface at the worst of times. I hear him speaking to figments of imagination. I hear him stuttering while fighting off sleep to study the arcane words he found in the underground. He is cracking and does not realize it. I believe everyone else would see this as clearly as I if they were not fighting their own, for lack of better words, demons.

I know of my purpose here. It is not simply the knowledge I can provide, although it surely is helpful, but I must be the anchor that binds everyone to this world, and in a strange irony, Barca and his rage will pull us together where it has historically tore people apart. Mn

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