Terres des Légendes

A land without a king...

As the bells of churches of Albonie toil to mourn the late king, throughout the land the nobles and their knights are congregating. «The King is dead! The King is dead!» the news had spread as quickly as a plague. After weeks of increasingly erratic behavior, King Hadric had murdered his son and only heir and committed suicide.

With their death, the Jerihar line had become extinct, just has the Osteruns had only a generation before.

With no clear successor to the throne, many unscrupulous nobles, here and abroad, are gathering their forces to stake a claim to the throne or to support someone elses claim with hopes their support would be remembered. A weak or spurious claim could very well be made law by force of arm and the next Albonian king be crowned on the battlefield.

The Baron Aldred called his knights for counsel and Castle Colburn was alit with activity. Also present are Dakan, Verruckt, Gaul and the Leper fresh from their victory against Baker’s men. As they make their way to the council room, Dakan and Verruckt ponder to themselves: Was Sharizeh’s prophecy unraveling before them?

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Baker's half-dozen

For a second time in a few hours, the old Cathedral was bustling with activity. City guards were rounding up the corpse of the fallen combatant and lining them up for Algernon’s inspection. As he was surveying the scene, Algernon was lost in thought. It was as the dwarf had said; Stilleppo l’escamoteur, Oly «Light Feet», Rigolo and Ikar the Black had been slain. Algernon had mixed feeling for the demise of his former allies. On one hand, it is true that it was through them that Gorki’s will was forged in his favour but on the other, there was an opportunity to grasp in this development.

He had made great strides in his attempt to unify the city of Clyster under his leadership but his position as Gorki’s heir and his indirect association with the Baker‘s dozen limited his ability to expand his influence further. With the arrest of One-eyed Lotney, the mysterious disappearance of Tempus the frail and the assassination of Jadhak le Balafré, more than half of the Baker’s dozen had been removed from the picture. As a faction in Clyster politic, their power was irrevocably curtailed. Algernon would be able to leave Baker’s shadow.

Algernon stood in silence looking at Ikar lifeless body, the half-orc that had been instrumental in his rise to power.

«Ah Ikar!» Algernon thought to himself.

«They forced my hand but maybe it was for the best that the deed was done through their sword rather than mine. I realize this was inevitable. It’s a brave new world, there is no place for your kind in it.»

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Verruckt' Momento Morri

Dans l’aube grandissante et la brume disparaissant remplacer par les échos des cris de souffrances entremêlées d’injures, insultes et blasphèmes montait tranquillement le léger brouillard de la terre du cimetière causé par l’ultime affrontement entre les agents du lépreux et la douzaine de Baker. Le combat atteint son paroxysme lors que Rigolo, d’un geste sec, pensé et haineux tranche le cou de la fille de Kreelo.

Dans cet instant, infiniment rapide, Verruckt revoie les derniers événements comme dans un rêve. Son départ pour les terres du Tahashim à la recherche de la femme de Balin. Ce voyage sans fin dans un pays de sable, d’une culture complètement différente et sans point commun de référence. S’étant fait voler, humilier, traiter de voleur et d’assassin n’a certes pas aider Verruckt à apprécier le pays et sont cadre culturel. Forcer de faire alliance avec des orcs, ogres et même une troll voyante afin de pouvoir accomplir la mission du groupe et retrouver et libérer la femme de Balin. Durant leurs voyage de retour, un groupe d’assassin a diriger le blâme de leur infâme assassinassions sur Verruckt et son groupe. Rien de tel pour que goutte d’eau débordant du vase rende quelconque écho de ce pays maudit et malsain une grogne et une haine incontrôlable.

Finalement de retour au pays, vert et gracieux, parsemé de rivières et d’arbres avec des gens partageant une culture qui n’est pas toujours basé sur l’avarice et comment dépouiller sont prochain. Nous nous sommes vites retrouvé dans une situation de déjà vue : Gorki le maudit! Voulant gagner plus d’influence dans la ville de Clyster, le lépreux nous a demandé de le faire disparaître. Conjointement avec des dragons attaquant la ville et mon ancien rival de formation Ward. Dès que l’occasion se présente, Ward trahi et le groupe se retrouve dans le jeu infernal de Gorki, sorti ou mourir… Mais même ce jeu ne parvient pas avec son Léviathan à octroyer la mort à Verruckt et son groupe. Sortie de ce jeu, trouvant le manoir de Gorki et libérant le dragon s’y trouvant, celui-ci ne fit qu’une bouché de Gorki, mission dérisoirement accomplit!

Clyster, champs de batail de l’ombre, la lutte pour le pouvoir et le contrôle de la ville est maintenant ouverte à la mort de Gorki. Verruckt, avec Kreelo, Brocc et Balasar se retrouve encore du côté du lépreux à essayer de renverser la vapeur et la douzaine de Baker. Nous n’avons éliminé que deux membres lorsque la confrontation présente se déroule.

Focussant sur le coup fragile de la fille de Kreelo, celui-ci dandinant d’une côté et de l’autre dans les bras de Rigolo, giclant du sang qui se coagule en boue avec la terre du cimetière forçant une image arrêté d’une poupée chiffonné que l’on jette après usage… Le sang gicle encore, colorant de rouge pourpre le sable proche de cou… La réalité frappe à la porte de la raison, quel être démoniaque peut sans scrupule et d’un geste assurer trancher la gorge d’un innocent? Qui peut faire un acte de cette atrocité? … Moi!? … quoi? Non – jamais… Oui… Non… plus maintenant… enfin quel est cette vision Rimfaxienne? Suis-je ensorcelé par des survivants de Balor? Que m’est-il arriver pour ne ressentir qu’une douce folie à ce geste Rimfaxien? Je ne suis loin d’être un ange mais je ne suis pas un démon! Libera te tutemet! Libera te tutemet! Je suis libre maintenant de Riamfax et ses suppos! Mort au coupable, justice et vie aux innocents!

Je dois faire amende auprès de mes compagnons, ma force et ma magie serviront désormais une conscience et non une vengeance Balorienne…

Le combat atteint son paroxysme lors que Rigolo, d’un geste sec, pensé et haineux tranche le cou de la fille de Kreelo… le moment présent reprends son momentum, les gestes de tous et chacun semble revenir à un tempo normal, rapide et opposant une résistance à mes attaques et moi aux leurs… je crie ma haine et ma honte !

S’ÉS O NO S’ÉS! … S’ÉS O NO S’ÉS! RIGOLO NO S’ÉS!!!!

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The hunter becomes the hunted...

The news of Jadhak’s death sent Baker into a rage. At this outburst the young man delivering the news looked down and avoided eye contact as not to draw attention to himself. A smart move, as Baker would be just the type of man to kill the messenger.

Sudden troubles between Toma the Hawk and One-eyed Lotney, mysterious individuals asking around for the members of the Dozen and now this? Ikar the Black listened attentively but was having difficulty making sense of this. He dismissed the messenger to freely share his thoughts with his boss.

«I find it hard to believe the Red Wings would be involved.»

«Of course they have nothing to do with this! A lone glaive-wielding Dragonborn accompanied by a gnome and a human mastering the arcane… this is obviously the work the Baron’s lackey.»

«Could Tempus have really betrayed us for the Baron Aldred

Baker scoffed at the notion: «Tempus? Impossible! He would never turn on us. Furthermore, that man had a death wish, he would have fought to the death!»

«Maybe some mind-control magic was at play?»

Baker paused for a second to consider the possibility:
«Hum… Very few would be capable of such feat. To have that kind of mastery over one’s action would only be possible to an enchanter of great power… It would certainly be within the means of Dominion, but this is why I have that mongrel under watch at all time of day! I would have known it by now had he tried anything of the sort.»

Baker, having completely regained his composure, continued:
«No, Ikar. I believe that was actually Kreelo in disguise. It will be easy to test my hypothesis and if it proves correct, with his daughter in our custody, flushing him out will be child’s play.»

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The Owl and the Hawk

«I don’t know Toma, something doesn’t add up.»

Ever since Milche demise, Toma the Hawk had acted as the leader of his people. For decisions as important as this one, however, he sought the counsel of the elderly Cato who had advised Milche before him. «He really inquired about Rigolo and that child under his “care”?»

Toma had been very enthusiastic at the prospect of an alliance with the Baron but Cato’s healthy suspicions were starting to put a damper on his mood. «Yes Elder, he said it was a matter of interest for one of his men». Cato frowned and mildly hit Toma on the top of the head with the tip of his cane. «I sometimes wonder what’s in that noggin of yours, Toma.»

«Just who do you think would have any interest in that changeling child but her father?».

Cato’s words were like daggers, Toma realized where he was going with this and he suddenly felt incredibly stupid.

«Are you even sure you were talking to the Leper himself?» Cato continued.

«Kreelo…» muttered Toma, now blushing with shame.

«While it is not entirely impossible that Kreelo is indeed working with the Leper, the events of the last few days might all been instigated by a very determined – and desperate! – changeling. You might have been played…»

«What do you advise I do, Elder?»

«Nothing… Even if Kreelo is working alone I don’t see the harm in letting him weaken the others. Let him do his business – for now – and we’ll revaluate the situation later.»

«Yes, Elder», said Toma, bowing.

As Toma was about to leave, Cato turned to him:
«Toma, one last thing… If the “Leper” comes to pay you a visit again, I would like to have a word with him…»

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Living Well Is the Best Revenge
Les mémoires de Dakan, sinsear

I have decided, as I should have from the start, to write the remainder of this memoir in Elleslandic. The, severely unpleasant, last few days have made it abundantly clear that these words might never be returned to my home, so, I prefer to ensure they are of some use to any good soul who inherits them.

“Severely unpleasant days” you say? Indeed, it would be difficult to describe a span of time spent as unwilling gusts to a petty, megalomaniacal, criminal gnome. This is exactly what I told Durnik, Durkon and Mellienas (no comments) would happen if we left our hearth. “Treasure, lasses and dragons!” they said, but to that I say home-cooked food, a comfortable bed and, most importantly, no dragon. Truly, only an anvil-headed fool hears “dragon” and thinks “excitement”. In my, admittedly-limited, experience, where there is a dragon, there is an idiot who thinks he can use said dragon to gain power without being figuratively and literally bitten in the end.

It occurs to me that I may have skipped a few steps. As indicated in my last entry, Baron Aldred had approached us to bring justice to the afore-mentioned murderous gnome. So, we made our way to Clyster with few complications barring a few trolls. On our last visit to the city, we had heard that a dragon had been seen flying nearby, looking into the city, but had dismissed the idea as the normal rumours which tend to spring up anywhere, but, this time, there was a literal flight of dragons hanging around the place. We made our way into the city and had our preliminary meeting with the Leper who indicated that he would arrange an opportunity for us to deal with Gorki. A few minutes after we had left the meeting, the “dragons” swooped and attacked the city. My friends and I were able to deal with those in our immediate vicinity who turned out to be wyverns, a “dumber”, but no less savage cousin of true dragons.

Shortly after the fight, we ran into Verruckt‘s friend Ward and his cronies. They indicated that they had seen the dragon in charge head for the hills outside the city and proposed that we chase it down. This dragon was apparently the parent of the one we had eliminated for Baron Aldred some time ago and seemed a foe beyond our capabilities, but Ward told us that, in exchange for our help and our trust he would bring tools which would allow us to defeat the dragon. Although we had noticed Ward spending some time with Gorki during Nosson’s premiere, our past encounters suggested we could trust the man, so we followed.

What ensued is what a dimwitted, long-dead, dwarven spirit might refer to as an epic battle. Ward and his company had a magical bell, the sound of which seemed to affect the dragon deeply, making it possible for all of us to stimy the dragon, although why Balasar chose to do so from beneath the beast is beyond me. During this time, Minax had rounded some other men and eventually returned to the battlesite with a mysterious long metal tube, which, through her arcane commands, launched missiles at the dragon from hundreds of feat away, actually damaging the dragon. Even with this help, I wasn’t sure we would survive the encounter until the wizard Sengod intervened and put the creature under his control using a strange eldritch crown. This, unfortunately, was not the end of that. Gorki and his minions had also approached the fight. He got Sengod to give him the crown and offered Ward payment in exchange for our capture. Although the man hesitated, it wasn’t for a particularly long period, so, a few minutes after sharing the field with us, Ward and his companions turned on us. Balasar and I had little chance to outrun the gargantuan beast, but I hoped Verruckt and Brocc could get out of reach and hide. I had sadly underestimated Gorki’s investment in our capture.

We awoke chained in an actual dungeon, somewhere underground, where Gorki’s deformed and deranged warden entertained himself with a light version of torure: starvation and the occasional punches. He had obviously not been allowed to inflict any permanent damaged, but, with time, the general dampness of the place was threatening to do just that with my joints. Thankfully, Verruckt was able to teleport out of his restraints and make short work of the hunchback. We were able to retrieve our equipment, everything but our light sourece in place, but that’s as far as we made it before discovering that the dungeon was only accessible through a magical gateway to which we did not have the key. Furthermore, some interestingly placed leaky hole suggested that the whole place had an unpleasant flood-based security feature. As we considered our predicament a literal imp came through the portal, holding a small magical mirror. Through it, the figurative imp, Gorki, mocked and goaded us, suggesting that we would be allowed to avoid immediate submersion if we agreed to play along and danced through his little obstacle course. My partners decided to dance. One of the dungeon’s walls opened and the imp guided us through Gorki’s demented play area. I will spare the details, but suffice to say that there were ice demons, a lightning covered floor, an stenchy acid pit, arrow traps, a giant octopus and a last-minute betrayal followed by an underwater escape. Basically, the stuff of a deranged and obsessive mind.

We washed ashore accross the bay from Clyster. Close-by we could see the captured dragon chained up and harassed by some of Gorki’s men-at-arms. It roared something which Verruckt interpreted as “Free me”. It was obvious that even in our exhausted state, the guards wouldn’t be an obstacle for us and Brocc and Verruckt believed we would be able to free the dragon quickly, hopefully before any serious resitance was mustered. Believing it would be far more angry at its captor, or at least thankful enough not to eat us, we chose to go ahead. We broke its magical restraints just in time as Gorki approached with his crown and ordered it to stop us. The dragon made short work of Gorki’s guard and caught the gnome in his claws. It then offered to delay its own punishment if we could propose a harsher, more cruel one. Keeping the disgust from my face I clearly refused its offer before Verruckt’s instincts could lead us to do something our spirits would eventually regret. This sort of vengeance-fueled fantasy was exactly what had led Gorki to his current predicament. If he had forgotten about us after we had unknowingly foiled his plans, and in the process killed this dragon’s progeny, in Aldred’s lands, we might not have killed his favorite assassins, twice, and we perhaps would have been less willing to interfere in his spat with Nosson and, most-importantly for him, we might not have escaped his demented prison and released the dragon holding him aloft. In the end, what took him down is that he spent far more time obsessing over us than we did even thinking about him. I offered to keep his spirit from its inevitable torment in exchange for a small service, but he chose to hate us until the end. So be it.

Hopefully, when we get out of here, Durnik, Durkon, Mellienas (don’t ask) and I will be able to continue our adventures in Thuland, an arguably safer place for us.

Dakan

PS: Despite my personal feelings about revenge fantasies, I wouldn’t mind giving Ward and company their just deserts.

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Danse Macabre

The Royal Chamber is a swirling mist of scents and shapes coming and going into and out of existance like colorful snowflakes. I am hungry. So very hungry. As if I hadn’t eaten in months. The stars looking down on me still suspended in a moonless sky laugh and dance. They seem free and wild. There is something about those stars. They seem so… right.

Twilight is always the worst. The clouds racing circles across moonless skies, cruel stars suspended like grains of broken glass and chandeliers throwing strange shadows across the Royal Chambers. Lately a strange sense has come upon me that there is something wrong with the place. The geometry of it seems… unsound. Thinking back… it all started with the birth of my heir.

I had instantly sensed that was something wrong with him. Something wrong in his voice. Right below the surface; hidden contempt and fear. I remember clearly now. The scream echoing through the bedchamber, the silence and black of the night. How small the body felt. Carrying it down into the damp cellar. It made me sick. Sick to the core. Killing my progeny wasn’t the catharsis I had expected it to be. But for an instant, the flashing glimpse of an insight blows across my mind…

Lord God, thou who art in heaven! What have I done?

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Le repos d'Elana
Les mémoires de Dakan, sinsear

Le problème avec les esprits c’est qu’ils vivent dans le passé. Ils ne peuvent oublier ce qu’ils étaient dans la vie et, dans certains cas, encore moins comment celle-ci s’est terminée. Certes, un sinsear peut guider les esprits qui demeurent dans ce monde et les aider à exister en paix avec leur sort, mais un esprit frustré et sans encadrement, ça, c’est souvent une cause perdue. Je ne sais pas pourquoi j’espérais que les choses tournent autrement avec Elana, peut-être était-ce pour épargner Sarania, mais je n’aurais pas dû être surpris quand les choses tournèrent au pire.

Je voudrais dire qu’Elana refusa de nous écouter, mais ce ne serait pas tout à fait vrai. Ce à quoi nous faisions face n’était pas vraiment la jeune elf et cette chose pleine de rage n’aurait pas su comment écouter. Heureusement, dans sa colère, cette pauvre réflexion d’Elana avait su s’accaparer d’une certaine corporalité ce qui nous donna un angle d’attaque. Grâce aux efforts surhumains de tous les membres du groupe, y compris notre nouveau compagnon Balasar, nous parvinrent à l’affaiblir et, dans un instant de brillance, Sarania suggéra de lui remettre son armure. Ceci su finalement apaiser la sœur cadette et je pu éprouver quelques millisecondes de sérénité y voyant la fin de mon implication.

Évidemment, ce n’était pas le cas. L’esprit d’Elana, épuisé, allait quitter le monde quand sa sœur m’interpella. Le destin d’Elana n’était pas accompli. Elle devait rester parmi nous, mais elle aurait besoin de mon aide. Son esprit aurait besoin d’une ancre. Sarania et la fainte voix d’Elana me donnèrent des instructions et grâce aux herbes et outils mystiques toujours dans le vieux camp de la « sorcière », je pu « attacher » l’esprit d’Elana à l’armure créée par sa sœur. Le rituel ne me semblait pas trop différent de celui utiliser par mon maître pour enchanter certains totems et, avec les notes que je puis prendre, je crois que je pourrais en recréer une version plus simple qui ne nécessiterait pas l’entrelacement émotionnel et spirituel des deux sœurs. Quant à celles-ci, une fois bien installées dans mon armure, elles ne prirent pas trop de temps à me faire part de leur désir. L’une veut revenir à la vie et l’autre que j’aille en Érevorn visiter leur autre sœur.

Heureusement, le baron Aldred, lui, ne nous demande que d’aller à Clyster et d’apporter la justice à cet ignoble Gorki.

Dakan

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The Elven awakening part II

«Since time immemorial, the House of Hirinir had been conservator and protector of the forest. My family was amongst the few that had always remained true to the old ways. For centuries, we had been looked upon with derision by the other families but we performed our duties unwaveringly. Times had changed… and now our bretheren looked to us for our aid…

But we were unready. They were far too few of us. The task at hand seemed impossible.

My parents volunteered to journey to the Oracle atop the mount Palator to implore the gods for their pardon and seek their guidance. This was a difficult expedition, fraught with perils, during which my father gave his life to protect my mother. She carried on, nevertheless, until she finally reached the shrine.

The oracle received her and heard her plea. They prayed together for 40 days and 40 nights, but the gods remained silent. On the 41st day, the oracle addressed my mother, channeling their answer:

Noble Hirinir,
Our hearts bleed at your sacrifice.
You will bear a daugther bearing our marks,
who will unite all our children under one banner
and usher a new era of enlightment.

With these words, she returned the court of Hil-Ganduil. Our lord summoned his peers so that my mother could share with them the oracle’s revelation. The news was received with guarded enthousiasm by most and with suspicion by some. Our people are divided by clan lines, even with the situation being as it is, many were many not ready to bow to the offspring of a minor House.

My mother’s pregnency was overseen by our best medicus. Sadly, when the time came, their trade could only do so much. It was an extremely difficult labour, as if the gods were testing my mother one last time. The medicus realized they could save only one, the child or the mother, or risk losing both. They gave my mother the choice, who, without any hesitations, ordered them to save her child.

The babe bore three birth marks on her back, a moon, a leaf and a diamond. Morkaan, Lahmfada and Kernanu had chosen her to lead our people.

With her last breath, my mother named her daugther… Elana.

We mourned the passing of an heroine and celebrated the birth of another.»

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The Elven awakening part I

She was not capricious and demanding as spirits often can be, her even temper constrasting greatly with the shenanigans of Durnik, Durkon and Mellienas. She was level-headed and wise beyond her years. Always of good counsel when Dakan communed with the spirits for guidance, he came to trust her opinions the most. She was a valuable ally in the field of battle, her warding presence had made the difference between life and death on more than one occasions. Dakan knew that Sinsears should not befriend with the spirits they act as intermediary for, but, deep in his heart, he found Sarania’s companionship to be… comforting.

Having earned Dakan trust and esteem, Sarania was ready to share with him the plight of her people and the story of her family.

«When the Selentine Empire marched westward with its innumerable legions, our ancestors wisely chose to bow to the juggernaut rather than be destroyed in a futile conflict. The Empire proved to be benevolant to its obedient subjects. We paid homage to the Selentine emperor and we were allowed self-rule. The Selentine soldiers never ventured in our forest, but their merchants soon became a common sight. They had an endless hunger for our crafts and the lure for wealth quickly became irresistible. We abandonned the ways of nature for the pursuit of material gain. Hunters became lumberjacks, warriors became traders, druids became apothecaries, countless others became fletchers, leatherworkers and blacksmiths. While trade with the Empire made us prosperous, it made us dependant, and by the time the Empire fell, we could no longer feed ourselves on our own without man’s grain.

The Algandian kingdom rose from the ashes of the empire’s holdings in the region. Bound by necessity, we tied our destiny to the new kingdom. We paid homage to the Algandian king, in the same manner we used to celebrate the Selentine emperor. Throught the centuries the kingdom grew and flourished while our culture continued its decline. It decayed to the point that we adopted the language of the algandians and forgot our own. Now other than druids, wizards and other erudites, few speak Lughwyd, the language of our forefathers.

We were astray, but we continued to honor of our gods even after we stopped abiding by their ethos. Our faith was one of the last links with what we once were and we clinged to it adamantly. Our algandians friend respected our faith and did not seek to proselytize the word of the One God in our land. Their attitude toward us shifted, however, when the King Vergang launched the crusades to reclaim the holy lands. A new religious zeal inflamed the kingdom, a zeal that was stroked further both by the initial success of the crusaders and their following setbacks. A few vocal firebrand preachers started to label us as heathen. Under their influence our religion begun to draw suspicion, and while it was still tolerated far and wide, it was no longer respected like it used to.

It was just a matter of time before disaster struck. Incited by the sermon of a fanatic priest, a riotous mob dragged a group of sixteen elven merchants in the street of Carlind and hanged them like criminals. The event was traumatic for us, while he Algandian king punished those responsible, compensated the families and apologized profusely, this could not abate this unbearable feeling of powerlessness that we collectively felt. Our people, as one, had an epiphany: For a thousand year we have been the vassal of man. We had let our relationship with them sap us of our vigor. If something was not done now, we would fade from history with nary a whimper.

We had, at long last, awoken from our slumber.»

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