The Myth of The Manawell

Love and Tolerance

Who once was White made White anew
Come to lead the young and true
Who so bravely gave their due.
And last not least the final few
Come to lend a magic hand
To balance power in the land.
And with the grace of Light of Day
The Goddess blessed them on their way.
Unaware ahead what lay.

Love and tolerance
Tolerance and love
Gone to join the stars above.

Forward they charged, the heroes five.
Straight into vile Donellith’s hive.
They cut a path straight through the fray
While elsewhere battles raged away.

The once-elf beast emerged then from his lair,
Drider at his side.
To one of them he offered
Gold to turn the tide.
And then he boasted little care
When his wishes she defied.

It was a hard-fought battle, true.
The driderbeast, infernal thing,
At last she did go down.
The four, they rallied, Luna ‘round
To guard the fifth, the crown.

Love and tolerance
Tolerance and love
Gone to join the stars above.

The coward, loathe to face his end.
He must have known it nigh.
The coward turned his tail and ran,
The five their vict’ry to deny.
He took his portal to his hell,
It slammed shut with the loudest crack.

And alas, that fateful day,
Adventurers to their dismay,
Were suddenly knocked prone.
But she alone, life’s thread unsewn
Would never see another day.

Love and tolerance
Tolerance and love
Gone to join the stars above.
O Princess Luna, Star so bright,
Evil hath put out her light.

Her funeral, a grand affair,
As one, the nation’s soul laid bare.
All Naton clad in black and white,
To show both sadness and delight.
But happiness, ‘twas little there.

Love and tolerance
Tolerance and love
Gone to join the stars above.
O Princess Luna, Star so bright,
Evil hath put out her light.
But gone from here she shall not be,
Laid at the base of palace tree.
Though evil, it has doused her light,
No matter. Moons, their home is night.

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Daye's Journal, 3rd Shot
*gasp* da Fuq?

Daye’s Journal 2

Elves are interesting. Some are what like you hear: prancy, annoying, obnoxious, goody-two-shoes, and the like. But others are deeper than that: strong, ambitious with an iron will. Which I respect. Not saying I like this place or anything, but I have to admit I have some respect for Luna and Celestia. Especially Celestia. I have to give her some major credit; I thought when I was sent to rescue her that I would be dealing with a whiny, untrained nuisance. But no, I mean yeah she was crying a bit but given the circumstances I guess most anyone would give her a little leeway on that. Having been tortured and kept from her family with the very real prospect of death and what have you. But she bore it. I asked her to keep quiet and she soldiered through; didn’t once cry or anything on the way back to her home. I really didn’t expect that. People really can surprise you. Kind of like that cleric. By rights he should have killed me, but he didn’t and gave me this second chance. What is with people? People aren’t supposed to care; they aren’t supposed to do for others. Power has always been what’s important. With power, people respect you; or at least, they fear you. Which is better than nothing. But it seems like respect is a lot more powerful than fear. And helping others has a power all its own. I mean, apparently people really respect those that help others. I still think the paladin is insane for his fanatical following of whatever laws are at hand and his do-gooder nature. But at the same time, Luna is a kindred spirit to him, and if I respect her, should I not also respect Belasar? And Minnathena, she doesn’t have that fanatical annoying crazy of following every single law, but is she also not deserving of respect? She helps others; she always boosts us in combat, and rallies us every day.

And you know, Something is different. Normally I’d be laughing at the weaker, inferior beings that are being trampled and destroyed by more powerful ones. But I don’t feel like laughing here. This just feels wrong. Donnelith should be stopped; moreover, that Drider needs put down. Her ilk has no place on my plane. I’m just glad I wasn’t caught when I snuck into the encampment to rescue Celestia. And it’s a good thing I was there too, I found out a lot of good information. I’m going to have to make sure Luna and Belasar, Minnathena, and Arannis know what I saw and heard. We need to strike before Donnelith moves the camp again; which I wouldn’t put past him once he discovers the Princess missing.

The Dark One is not happy with me. The nightmares are getting worse. Apparently, he is not happy with how I’m using his gift. Of course, I didn’t know it was from him to begin with, but I’ll will use it how I will. I am not going to attack good people just because it would amuse him. I am worried though. If the nightmares get much worse, I fear for my safety; and the safety of my party. The Dark One does not appreciate those who turn their back on him. I must keep alert.

Maybe I can earn this power of respect.

Blood of Blood in Seal, I trace.

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Those lackadaisical Mages..... And The Drow are real!!!

Well, when we went to speak to Celestia, she attacked us and we actually had to fight her. Right as the fight was going bad for her she slit her own throat. As she died, the person we thought was Celestia suddenly transformed. This person was actually a Drow disguised as her. I tried to tell people that Drow existed, but no one would believe me. But now there’s PROOF!!!
Since we found out it wasn’t Celestia we knew we had to find her and our best guess was with the Rebels. This apparently was all the motivation Luna was looking for. Luna announced a Plan to officially attack the Rebels. She declared that we’re no longer playing defense.
She told us personally that before this attack, she had Missions for me and my Companions to complete. Daye was to play the Sneak and go to the Rebel camp and retrieve Celestia if possible. Perfect for her. Balasar was to Go and train the Troops in the City. Again, a perfect job for him. Minnethena was asked to use her relationship to her Father in order to convince her Father’s retired Military friend to come and serve with Luna for this engagement. With his past this man would be perfect to advise us on engaging an enemy working from or with the Shadowfell. And I was charged with the task of bringing to bear the Magisters that called this forest home, but stand idly by while it is being attacked. I made my way quickly to what these People called the Grove of Tranquility. There I addressed the Leader of the magic users and through wit and displays of magic I convinced these Mages and Wizards that the balance they preciously loved was off and that in order to restore it they needed to act. I convinced the leader and who knows how many others to help. I did as well as could be expected. I reported back to Princess Luna alongside the others. Apparently everyone was successful in their mission. For my success I was rewarded with these cloth bracers that allow me to Channel my Mental Might into a weapon strike. Remarkable. I shall have to write this and the rewards for my compatriots into the Tome for the Great Library.

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Bardly Banter

There were two items of interest found on the drow—I feel silly writing that sentence. Drow can’t exist…
Anyway, one was a vial of black liquid. It turned out to be poison of some sort. I know nothing more.
The other proved more immediately useful, however. It was some sort of prism made of a material that looked like purple glass. I know better than to think it was actually glass, though. Luna and Arannis discovered that when you look through it it shows a trail to…somewhere. I think they decided it must lead back to the rebel camp. Since we didn’t know whether it led only to the current location or to wherever the camp happened to be, Luna decided that the elven army needed to strike soon, before they could move again. But we couldn’t just set out first thing in the morning. There was work to be done.
They needed to know any information that they could get about what to expect at the camp.
They needed training for their mostly-civilian militia.
They needed the help of the mages, otherwise they could not fight magic with magic.
They needed someone to lead the way. Macthelion.
And perhaps most importantly, they needed to find Celestia.

Daye was nominated to go recon the camp. She’s the sneakiest of us. Big surprise there…
We figured Arannis would be the best candidate to go speak to the mages, since he deals in that kind of thing.
Balasar is the most martial one of us so he opted to train the militia.
And I was nominated to go speak with Macthelion. Not that I would’ve had it any other way.The man knew my father. The man saw what my father saw that made him not wish to ever tell me anything about his home.

We were able to get another couple hours of sleep before we each headed out to our tasks.
As we’d been told before, Macthelion lived alone on the western edge of the city. I didn’t know what to expect. Would he be a nice guy? Would he be crazy? Would he be angry and arrogant?
None of that prepared me for how things were. His house was really more of a shack. It had long since fallen into disrepair and there was no indication that its owner cared one bit. I knocked on the door and was greeted with a yell from inside, asking if I’d come to mock him, “too.” I told him I was Minnethena Whisperwillow, here on behalf of Princess Luna. There was a pause before he cracked the door open to peer out. I told him I was there not to mock him, but to seek his aid. He seemed distinctly uninterested, and I suspect that my connection to my father was the only reason he didn’t slam the door in my face.

He begrudgingly invited me in. The inside of the house was no better than the outside. Messy and dirty. Macthelion himself was much the same. He was wearing stained clothes and was generally greasy, and I got the opinion he hadn’t bathed in a while. We sat down on the couch and he asked me again what I wanted. I told him we needed his help because he was the only one left who knew what we were up against. He told me a little more of what happened and mentioned a third survivor. I briefly had hope that there might be another person we could find, but that hope was squashed when he said the third person went crazy and ran off into the Fel. He said that he wasn’t allowed to speak of what he had seen, and that most of the people believed him insane.

I told him that if he helped, then no longer would he be mocked. He could be a hero to the entire queendom. He shrugged it off. He only wanted his name cleared. He didn’t care much about being a hero. He wanted to know why anyone would follow a crazy person.

Through most of this he stared at the floor and muttered things about back then and about my father. He seemed to only be half listening.

I told him that it was specifically the princess who had requested his aid and that clearly she herself must have some faith in his knowledge and his ability. And I told him that he was needed as a leader, not a fighter. He would not have to get in the heat of battle at the thickest part of the Fel again. He could stay near the outskirts simply leading.

After a while he begrudgingly agreed, on two conditions. One, he wanted to stress that this was not him coming out of retirement. He would be stepping forward to provide a service to his queendom; no more. And two, he demanded that whatever forces he was put in charge of be under his control. Luna could give advice, but no more. He must have the final say. I thanked him for agreeing to join us and told him that I would make sure Luna was aware of his conditions.

Before I left he went over to a chest in the corner, opened it, and withdrew a scimitar. He gave it to me, saying that it was my father’s, that my father had said he never wanted to see it again, and that Macthelion wanted me to have it.

Then I headed back to the palace to await news from the others.

Balasar and Arannis got back shortly after I did, apparently both successful, but Daye did not. Luna began to grow anxious as time dragged on. Finally there was a knock at the door and Daye entered followed by a hooded figure. Daye seemed like she wanted to speak, but Luna cut her off, demanding information on her sister’s whereabouts and condition. Daye had no choice but to step aside, gesturing towards the other person. She began to speak, “I must warn you—” but Luna ran to hug her sister. At that point Luna was able to see under the hood. Celestia had been cut. Scarred. Her once-beautiful face mangled so badly that even magic might not be able to remove the scars. Luna seemed barely able to contain herself, but finally mustered up the willpower to focus. Balasar offered to try some of his healing magic on her. Celestia was led to her room by guards who had been ordered not to let anyone else see her yet, and after a brief discussion among the five of us about what all we’d accopmlished (success across the board, Avandra be praised), Balasar split off to see what he could do for Celestia and the rest of us went to get as much sleep as possible before the next sunrise.

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Balasar's Journal 2

What a day it has been. First we have to fight the princess Celestia, or should I say, the Celestia imposter. This is because the princess Celestia turned out to be this thing called a Drow. I had no idea what a Drow was but the way Arranis acted as soon as she turned into the Drow I could tell that they were a big deal. Princess Luna took the liberty of examining the body for any evidence or clues to where the real Luna could be. Luna found a vial of inky black stuff, which pinged me as something evil but not extremely evil. We determined that it was a poison and under the cap was a map and schedule of the changing of the guard of Luna’s room. It was obvious the imposter was an assassin meant to kill the Princess Luna. The other item that was found was a purple prism. It didn’t look like much but apparently there is a purple trail if you look through it. Luna told us there would be a lockdown until the morning then she would have tasks for us.

In the morning we met with Luna she told us each that there are four tasks for the upcoming battle. I was to train the militia so that they would be somewhat prepared for the battle, no matter how ill equipped they would be. I went with the Princess Luna to the training area, she gave an inspiring speech about the battle ahead and introduced me as their trainer.

I was given four practice dummies each donned in a different armor. Cloth, leather, chain, and plate. I showed the militia how to attack each armor showing them the weak points of each. I then proceeded with Luna’s help to show them how to take and block hits, and then I wrapped up the training with some hand to hand combat. Just in case their swords were knocked out of their hands.

After the training I was given a standard, and was asked to carry it into battle tomorrow with them. I said that it would be an honor to do so. Luna escorted me back into the main room where we met earlier in the day. Arranis and the bard were already there and we had a quick discussion. After said discussion Daye arrived from her task of finding, and hopefully rescuing the princess Celestia. Which she did, but the princess was scarred and LUna was horrified at that. She quickly dismissed Celestia to her room and told her not to let anyone see her. Luna asked me to see what I could do to heal her I obliged. Once I arrived back with the group we had a pow wow about the day ahead.

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Daye's Journal, Round 2
Mario, anyone?

Blasted elves and their confunding ways. The Queen Mother can’t seem to keep proper track of her daughters. Celestia (whatever…) has apparently either been killed or kidnapped since we have discovered an odd type/color of elf to have been taking her place. Bastard cut his own throat when he was found out too. That’s dedication. This probably has something to do with this rebel named Donnelith. I still wish to meet him to discover who gave him/how he received these powers. But, I didn’t realize elves were so easiely swayed; this is information I might be able to use in the future. At least my rag=tag band of adventurers was able to perform tasks asked of us by Luna and her mother. I’m doing my good deeds much easier than before. However, I feel we only succeeded due to my quick-thinking and good aim. Gold always loosens the tongue where nothing else will, I’ve found. Which is why it’s always a good thing to have some excess gold laying about at times. It is curious though how much information that the Elves seem to just freely hand out. It’s like they trust too much. Oh well, I’ll still help them, after all; they are helping us in return. I have to say though, Luna is militant uptight bitch-ish. My merry band of do-gooders are still quite annoying for the most part. I can hardly tolerate the preaching of the lizard boy scout or the ineptitude of that bard. The wizard isn’t too bad; but, he is still a wizard after all.

I have this strange suspicion we will have to search out this missing princess… I suddenly feel as if we need a couple of plumbers. It’s the oddest feeling, really.

Blood of Blood in Seal, I trace.

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Balasar's Journal

Before the light of dawn we left the town of Stace, we had to so we could escape the coming fire of our “betrayal.” Our next destination was the elvish kingdom. Something that intrigued me. Never before had I stepped into the elvish lands and this would be a new experience for me. Maybe I could spread the word of Bahamut to those unaligned. As we approached the boarder between the human and elven lands we were stopped by two guards warning us that there have been raids on parties and few have come out alive. Arranis and Daye pressed some more information out of them and getting them to tack on the assailants had all been wearing red and that there is some sort of uprising in the elvish lands. We got by through assuring them that we would be able to handle anything that would come our way.

Not to long in our trek inside the elven lands the road became hard to see. There was a vague outline of a road, with a shallow creek to our side and a dense forest to our other side. I was in the lead. It wasn’t to long before we got ambushed by a party of Elven raiders. Four (scouts I do believe) and two archers. The scouts had swarmed us quickly and Daye swiftly ran into the woods, something I assumed that she was just hiding staying away from combat, an assumption that would prove me quite wrong. Daye’s combat whilst hidden in the forest proved to be very helpful, almost as helpful as the archers that hid themselves and helped us get rid of the raiders.

Shortly after the fight was done with the raiders Arranis introduced our party to the elven archers. Who had a back and forth in elvish, which was interesting to say the least as this was the first back and forth dialogue I heard in elvish. After the short discussion we were led to a headquarter like place carved out of a tree trunk, we were only led here because one of the archers recognized Menathina as the daughter of someone. We inquired about the uprising and we were given a good bit of information. Doenellith, who is the leader of this rebellion, was sick and tired of Queen Starbright being queen. Donellith said that she wasn’t fit to rule the elves for she was Aladrin, even though before this no one had a problem with her being queen. What we were given was that Donelith went to a part of the wood were the pace called the Shadowfell was very strong and that he was tainted by evil. Daye corrected their information by saying the Donellith actually went into the Shadowfell and made some pact with an evil being.

Then again we were given another piece of information that shocked me. A bit of information that overjoyed me. The leader of the party that saved us from the assailants said that he had seen another Dragonborn. Most of my life I had spent searching for another of my kind, and spreading the word of Bahamut, and here I was given that I am not alone. That I was not the last of my kind. I was told that the Dragonborn was white and was heading to the capital city of Naton, which I was wanting that to be our next stop before the trail of the Dragonborn, whose name was Arathus, even my tomb of Dragonborn history had a little bit of information on him.

Our party decided to go after a group of rebels instead of heading straight towards Naton, after I did a quick splinter removal on the wounded elf inside hq. We were given potions that would mark a target for the three archers that would be accompanying us to focus their shots on. Once we arrived at the rebel camp we did what we needed to do to get rid of the bandits and continue on our journey.

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Daye's Journal

This is ridiculous. That damn bard almost ruined everything. I’m lucky that meat shield of Bahamut hasn’t tried to kill me as a result. Not only did the bard (Minathenna, I think?) steal key ingredients that I had to spend good gold on, but she ended up getting herself poisoned in the process because she was too stupid to not get caught. Nearly got all of us killed, she did. I was able to blast one of the assassins out of the window thankfully and then killed the other one after the bard passed out. Though I’ll admit she did help knock them down a bit. But all was not lost, I was able to find some gold on the one doppelganger as recompense. And I got to save the bard in the bargin. Heh. She’ll owe me later. But because she couldn’t not get caught, we had to go deal with James; bastard didn’t trust me. Not that I really blame him. Had to beat the information out of him, and his bloody imp. We almost didn’t get the information in time though. But thanks to the screwyness of the Manawell(which is REAL; would have never thought… If only I could find a way to control it or steal some of its power…) we arrived just in time to watch the ritual go horribly awry. The Lord was not happy. But I was able to help ‘stop’ the ritual and kill the abominations without retribution from Asmodeus. I even earned a few points with the Bahamut’s blundering ‘paladin’. Almost lost a lot though when they all realized that I had been hiding the magic rod from them. I need to be more careful with its use in the future though; the paladin claims it’s evil and I can’t risk angering him or being forced to kill him. I’ll unfortunately need everyone in this motley gang to get to the Manawell.

It was an eventful night, but at least I got some bloody sleep eventually. This book that I got from the 4 Eyes is useless so far. But maybe I can glean some useful information from it in the future. I need to be more careful in the future though. I can’t afford any distractions or hindrances. Nor can I ill afford to have anyone interfere.

“Blood of Blood in seal, I trace”

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Skeletal Interference

After a bit of traveling, we arrived in the little town of Stace. It was the last town on the way to the Elf kingdom — the Elf kingdom! I’ll finally get to see my father’s homeland! — so we decided to stock up on supplies. As we entered the village, though (It was more of a village and less, even, than a town), things started not to feel right. I’d heard better things about this place than what I saw. They’d had a mine. They were supposed to be prosperous. This village that lay before us was anything but prosperous, however. Buildings had fallen into disrepair. Shops and taverns were closed. No one smiled. I might’ve described this place in a song as “grey.”

We ended up at a place called Sump’s Stay-house — mostly because it was the only thing open. It was a little inn/tavern. Things were a bit on the expensive side, there, which I guess explains why they were still open, but I didn’t feel too bad paying for it because I could tell the village needed my outside money. We talked to the bartender (Mr. Stump, I presume? I don’t think we asked for his name) and one of the other patrons in the tavern and discovered that what I’d heard was true; this place had been prosperous only months before. After a bit of brain-wracking, I remembered hearing about an incident that had occurred in the mine. It was located at Cooper’s Hill, named after a Rorland Cooper and currently owned by his son Daniel Cooper, of whom I knew nothing. But soon after workers started working there, they reported a bad cough, then went blind and started to die.

Anyway, the bartender, who I’m going to call Sump on assumption, suggested that we either talk to Cooper himself or to the mayor about it for more information.

We decided to split up. Balasar and I would talk to the mayor, while Daye and Arannis would talk to Cooper and see what they had to say about the mine. So we went our separate ways. Balasar and I headed off to the mayor’s house. It was a humble little house, and his wife greeted us at the door. Apparently not even the mayor was immune to the slump the town was in, which I thought spoke well of him. He hadn’t let the corruption get to his head and so was in the same boat as everyone else in town. He repeated the information we’d learned in the tavern, plus some more. Apparently 5 or 6 years ago, Cooper’s hill was home to a band of gnolls. Tired of putting up with their attacks, Cooper led an attack against them, killed them all, and took the hill for himself, hence its name. There were rumors that the gnoll leader Gnoldemort, though, at the moment of his death, promised revenge, saying, “Yeenoghu will save us in the next life.” I didn’t know who Yeenoghu was, but it’s never good when gnolls are involved. The mayor also told us specifically that over 12 had died from the sickness, and that the first to die actually rose from their graves and shambled off to the mine where they wander around aimlessly at night and retreat into the mine during the day.

He then proposed to use a task. He said that the town was getting along fine before the mine and would get along fine without it, and that it should be destroyed. He offered to pay us and any other members of our party 80gp each to simply go in and collapse the mine. I thought perhaps we should meet and talk to the other two before agreeing to it, but I didn’t speak up and Balasar agreed immediately, so I agreed as well and we set off to find the other two.

Apparently they’d agreed to rid the mine of whatever was causing the sickness so that Cooper could reopen the mine. I guess he’d been hit by hard times as well, and wanted the mine open so he could earn a living again, because apparently he’d also offered to pay the four of us 80g each. Hard times all around in this place. We were then to give a public speech to the town telling them that the mine was safe now and they could go back to work.

We all shared the information we’d gotten about the mine from our respective sources and decided to head to the mine during the day when they were driven into the mine from the light.

We entered the cave and almost immediately were set upon by a group of zombies, including one strong little bastard that really could’ve done some damage had we not been so lucky. Something strange happened during that fight, though. One of Daye’s abilities did something we’ve not seen it do before. It made my arcane senses tingle a bit, but it made the paladin pretty much turn and stare at her in the middle of the fight. It was all we could do to make him wait until after the fight to address it. After the fight, though, address it he did. The paladin had apparently detected a great evil around Daye as that had happened. Between that and the way she talks whenever she’s asked a question, I’m not sure I can fully trust her anymore. I don’t know what it is, I guess nothing in particular, there’s just something there that puts me on edge. I don’t know, maybe it’s nothing. She did save me from the poison that one time, after all. The paladin, I think, definitely doesn’t trust her anymore, so she’d best be on her best behavior around him.

We continued into the mine and were attacked by spiders that dropped from the ceiling, but we handled them with relative ease. Even further back still, the cave opened into a large chamber. In the center of the chamber was a figure standing and chanting in the dim light. I couldn’t quite make out what it was, but a couple of the others could see that it was a gnoll, which was strange, because they should’ve been dead. It was clear that this was no ordinary gnoll. We didn’t want to give him time to react, so we charged in and managed to surprise him. Upon closer inspection, he was apparently a zombie, himself. The gnoll leader from the story, I assumed. Gnoldemort. We managed to hit him hard at the beginning of the fight, but he summoned skeletons to even the odds a bit. We managed to kill the gnoll, but still had to kill the skeletons. We thought were were done with the hard part. But no, a pillar of light, dark light, suddenly appeared around the gnoll’s body, and he rose up from the dead (again)! After some hard fighting and a few close calls, we managed to defeat him a second time and kill off the remaining skeletons, and during the fight, Daye’s spell triggered again! This time Balasar could tell the evil was coming from the rod itself. How long has Daye had a magic rod, I wonder. Why hasn’t she mentioned it? Shady, I think, keeping secrets.

I’m surprised Balasar didn’t take her staff and break it then and there, but I could tell he wanted to. Wanted to press Daye about it, too, but she closed up and didn’t want to tell us about it. I guess that’ll have to wait.

I did get a nice wand out of the deal, though. When the gnoll died, his wand split into three pieces. Two were unusable, but one seemed to have reverted to the thing it had originally been.

Anyway, since we left the mine without demolishing it, that meant we hadn’t completed the mayor’s task. I thought we should all go tell the mayor in person and then all go collect our reward in person, but Daye and Arannis were adamant (almost oddly so) that we split up again, exactly as before, so that Balasar and I would relay the bad news to the mayor while Daye and Arannis would relay the good news to Cooper.

The two of us arrived at the mayor’s house and delivered the news. He was very upset at us for not fulfilling our agreement, and so naturally we didn’t get paid. We tried to offer reasoning for not having done it. With the mine open again, the town could go back to work and prosper once more. The mayor simply shook his head and asked us if we knew anything about Cooper. About how he still lives in a mansion, with a butler. About how he lives in luxury while the town deteriorates around him. About how he’s nothing but a greedy bastard and how we’d probably been tricked, because the people would be too superstitious to ever want to go into the mine again anyway, speech or no. He told us he planned to have Cooper arrested in the morning, his property seized, and any further money going back to the town, and that we’d better leave early if we didn’t want to get caught up in it. We took his advice, stayed the night at Sump’s, and then set out early the next day.

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Penance - Part II

Upon being arrested, we were all thrown into a holding cell. After being there a short while, the guards came to take me for “questioning.” I was afraid of what this could mean. I’ve never been arrested before, but I’ve heard stories, and since the guards seemed convinced of our guilt I was expecting the worst. Where by “questioning” they mean “torturing you until you confess to whatever they want, then torturing you more because you’re ‘guilty.’”

I was led to the office of Captain Reneau, the captain of the City Guard. Much to my surprise, what awaited me was not the torture I feared. Instead I was met by Captain Reneau himself and another woman who I could only assume by her dress was not part of the guard. She was wearing white robes and had tattoos on her arms and face. She had a white cloth around her head, specifically around her eyes. This should have blocked her eyesight, but she seemed able to see quite clearly and stared straight at me. It was rather unnerving how her gaze seemed to pierce my soul despite her eyes not even being visible. She admonished me (and the others, though they weren’t present) for being foolish enough to get caught and arrested for something so silly, as if she was incredibly skeptical of our preparedness for whatever it was that we’d been summoned here for. I was told that we must all do penance, and that only if I were to succeed at the captain’s task would I again be worthy. After giving me a final moment to ask questions, of which I had none as I was too taken aback at this unexpected turn of events, she left the room.

I was now left alone with Captian Reneau. He told me that, as the other woman had said, I must do my penance to earn my freedom. I was curious what task they were going to have me perform. Perhaps it would be just that, some sort of performance. Maybe I’d have to perform for the criminals in jail, or some other group I wouldn’t normally perform for, at no pay. (The payment being my freedom, of course.)

It turned out not to be anything nearly so lovely. Captain Reneau told me that I’d been separated from the rest not because of my skills as a performer so much as because they needed me to get some information, and I’d be a lot less conspicuous as one person than if they’d sent us all together. And I guess I was the one they’d deemed least fit for the task the other three were going to have to perform.

Turns out there was a group of warlocks in the city which they suspected of being up to something dangerous and wanted me to get more information. He told me there was a man by the name of James Ulrich who they strongly suspected was involved and who they told me could be easily made to talk after being loosened up with a little alcohol. He was described as having only one good eye, no hair, and a burn mark on his face, and apparently he hangs around the Poison Apple often. I was told I had twelve hours to get useful information out of him or I’d be locked up for my full sentence, and that I’d also be locked up if I tried to run.

I set off to find this Poison Apple place. I’d heard of it before and remembered it wasn’t in the friendliest of neighborhoods. It took me a little over an hour to find. I approached the door. The windows were covered in grime and the door was locked. I wondered for a moment how they did business if their door was locked all the time. I knocked timidly on the door and a little window slid open. Someone peered menacingly at me through it and asked what I wanted. I told them I’d like to come in and get a drink. He squinted at me, as if unsure whether or not to let me in, before asking my profession. I told him I was a traveling performer, a bard as it were, and he let me in, seemingly begrudgingly.

Upon entering, I saw that he was an immense half-orc, and it took all of my will to maintain a straight face and not cry out. But I walked past him, took a quick glance around the room, and spotted who I was sure must be James against the wall at the bar. He kept glancing at the door like he was waiting for someone. I didn’t want to just walk straight over to him and sit down, though, so I wandered around for a few minutes before sitting in the seat next to him and asking for a drink. The other guy to my right was already drunk and was being a bit rowdy. He said something to me, told me I looked funny, and I told him I was a bard. He said he wanted me to sing him a song, so I stood up to do so. Well, the fool decided to stand up right when I did and spilled his drink all over the both of us. He decided in his drunken stupor that it was my fault and a fight broke out. He and a couple of his buddies rushed me, but they went down surprisingly easily. I almost felt bad for them.

I was half expecting others in the tavern to join in, but to my surprise our fight went largely ignored by everyone else and the dead were taken away and the floor cleaned up without much fuss. I wondered to myself if this was a frequent occurrence.
I sat back down and James seemed impressed. He let on that he’d been expecting someone like me not to know how to handle myself. He laughed and we struck up a conversation as I bought him a drink.

He was wearing robes so black they seemed almost to absorb light, with no decorations on them whatsoever, and carrying a small package. I asked him timidly what had happened to his face and he told me he’d had a run-in about a year ago with a gnome who’d been supposed to deliver poisons to him, but who threw some kind of acid potion in his face and ran away instead. I asked if that wouldn’t happen to be Spobble Bocks, and upon surprised confirmation that it was, told him I’d had a run-in of my own with the gnome, and that he currently wasn’t particularly on my good side either. This endeared me to him a bit and allowed me to ask about the package in his hand. He told me that as I may have guessed from his attire, he was actually a warlock, and that he was part of the warlock coven in the city. Said he probably shouldn’t be telling me this, and that if I double-crossed him he’d make sure he had more good eyes than I did. Then he went on to tell me that they were planning to have a ritual tomorrow to summon a minion of ‘their deity’ into the city to strengthen their powers and so they could charge more for their…services. I didn’t know who their deity was, but I played along, hoping Captain Reneau would have a better idea. He said his package contained the last of the ingredients needed for the ritual. I knew then that I’d have to get that package from him, but wasn’t sure how. Then an idea came to me. We talked for a few more hours as I bought him drinks until he got so drunk he passed out, and at that point I quickly took the package from him and walked as casually as possible out the door and around the corner before running back to the Guard’s headquarters.

I got back in to Captain Reneau’s office and told him the news. I gave him the package and asked him if he knew of the deity of which James had spoken. He said that most warlocks worship Asmodeus! This was terrible news, indeed. I told him that unfortunately I had been unable to get the location of the ritual, but that since these were the last ingredients needed, they should be held up a bit. He thanked me for what I’d managed, and then the same woman from before re-entered the room. She said that now that I had regained my worth I could accompany her to the Great Library where I’d be able to meet up with the others again shortly. Upon reaching the Great Library, we went up to the restricted fifth floor, where I saw many others with similar robes, tattoos, and white cloths around their eyes, though there were some whose eyes were uncovered.

She led me past them and up to a waiting room and asked if I had any questions. Unable to maintain my tact, I asked what the significance of the white cloth was.
She explained to me that she was blind and the cloth restored her sight, and that for everyone in the tower who wore a cloth, the situation was the same. There was more to it, though. Apparently being born blind is a sign of being touched by magic at birth, so the Four Eyes request that all people born this way be sent to the Grand Library to study, so the ones with the cloth over their eyes are the more prolific users of magic. I thanked her for answering and told her I had no more questions, so she told me the others would be arriving shortly, once they were finished washing up — apparently they’d had to go into the sewers! — and then excused herself and left me there to wait for the others. The others did in fact show up after only a few minutes, and we left.

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