The Broken Crown

Salzar, Alone at Last

I left the rest of the party temporarily, and am heading towards Asker to do some research on Nerull.
Met some hunters in the forest who have wisely agreed to help me, as I am quite lost.
Found a dead knight in the forest. Owlbears apparently stalk the woods, whatever they are. Owlbears, oni, and dire wolves.

I made it to the city with little problem, and have arrived at the library. Here, I have discovered two new spells.

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Lost In A Good Book: Chapter 1
Wrenn's Side Quest

Wrenn felt a weight lift as he parted ways with the rest of the group. He was enjoying their company and the change of pace from his normal research, but he’d not had much opportunity to bolster his book collection. Now he had a chance to, through a man named Devlin.

As he set off towards the North West quarter he realised it had been weeks since he last spent some time by himself. He was looking forward to it, and had been excited about his side quest ever since speaking to Content Not Found: hanalor.

Wrenn’s enjoyment was cut short when he turned a corner off of Ponterin’s market square – out of the corner of his eye he saw a flash of red and a figure dart out of sight. Immediately recognising Enna, he rolled his eyes and pretended not to notice as she tried to scramble up a nearby drain pipe. If he couldn’t actually be alone, then he could at least pretend.

After a short walk, Wrenn was already lost in this strange city. He approached a pair of urchins who were chanting a nursery rhyme, hoping they could point him in the right direction.

“Hi, I’m new to this area and I need to meet someone…”, Wrenn began. “Mum says not to speak to strangers”, one of the urchins cut him off.

“Erm, I’m looking for some directions then I’ll be on my way”, Wrenn said, caught off-guard. The street kids in Geflesh were a lot more cheeky and he’d been preparing himself for that. “I’m looking for a man named Devlin”.

“Oh you don’t want to speak to Old Man Devlin, Mum says to stay away from him”, said the second boy. Deciding to change his tact, Wrenn replied “Then you’d better tell me where he lives so that I don’t accidentally bump into him!”

“He lives in the half derelict house down that way”, replied the first urchin, pointing down a side street. Chucking a copper coin their way, Wrenn continued on.

Almost reaching the western wall, Wrenn found the house that must be Devlin’s. It sat in a quiet corner, ramshackle and in dire need of repair. Deciding to approach this head-on, he strode up to the door and knocked, listening for movement inside. After a minute of waiting he peered up through one of the windows but could make out nothing through the grime – there certainly wasnt a fire or lantern inside.

Wishing he was under the cover of darkness, Wrenn made a circuit of the house, but couldn’t find another entrance aside from a small hatch on one of the back corners. He’d normally consider climbing through, were he alone, but knew that Enna would make a joke of it if she saw him.

Feeling a little defeated, he made his way back around to the front door and banged on it, harder this time. After a moment a croaky voice answered. “Yeeees?”.

Pausing for a second, Wrenn asked “Is that Devlin?”. “Depends who’s asking”, came the response. The man who must be Devlin spoke slowly and deliberately, almost as if he wasn’t used to talking.

“My name’s Wrenn. Hanalor told me that I should speak to you if I’m interested in buying or selling books”. Another moment’s pause, while the man on the other side of the door seemed to carefully consider Wrenn’s words.

“Hanalor wouldn’t have told you to speak to me, because I don’t sell books. I’ve got plenty of books but they’re mine”, came the slow reply.

Wrenn, not sure how to proceed, said, “I see, erm, and you don’t want to part with any of those books?”. “Why would I? They’re mine” answered Devlin, seeming confused at the prospect of parting with his possessions.

“Agh Fuck”, Wrenn muttered to himself under his breath. He’d need to change his tact if he wanted to get anything out of this interaction. “Can I maybe come in?”, he tried, “If you’re not willing to sell any then maybe you’d be interested in reading some of my books, then possibly we could swap?”.

“Barter?” was the simple reply.

“Something like that”, smirked Wrenn. “Got my eyes on you”, warned Devlin.

Wrenn wasn’t feeling great about the exchange so far, and was starting to worry about this old man. He didn’t know what he was expecting when he came here, but this certainly wasn’t it. “…maybe I’ll come back another time”, he ventured.

To Wrenn’s surprise, Devlin response seemed more keen, “Sure you’ve got nothing I want?”. “What do you want?”, Wrenn quickly replied – glad that his time might not have been wasted after all.

“There might be something, I’d have to bring you inside to tell you…”, croaked the old voice. Before Wrenn could answer, the door swung open as if of it’s own accord. Against one of the back windows Wrenn could make out the silhouette of a man. Cautiously he approached, more courageous knowing that Enna was nearby.

As he entered he was immediately aware of how squalid the single room was, everything was in disrepair and it looked like it had been this way for a long time. Along one wall was a huge bookcase, filled with old tomes, but Wrenn’s scanning of them was cut short by the sound of the door blowing shut behind him.

For a moment, in the light of the door, Wrenn had seen the man, Devlin. He had a gaunt and sallow face, with sunken eyes. He looked ancient and thin, as if the smallest nudge might push him over. Now he was plunged back into darkness.

“You mentioned a barter?”, said Wrenn.

A pause, while Devlin seemed to think deeply, “There is something I lost once”, he began, “Something I’ve not seen in a long time. Something out of my reach but, perhaps, within yours.”

“Is that a short joke?”, asked Wrenn, all-too-familiar with his party’s propensity for jokes at his expense.

“Have you been to the town of Grenscombe?", Devlin asked, ignoring Wrenn’s question. Surprised, Wrenn replied “It’s funny you should ask, it’s my intention to head to Grenscombe soon.”

“I lost something there once”, Devlin said thoughtfully. “What did you lose?”, Wrenn quickly asked – glad that the conversation was leading somewhere finally. Devlin, troubled, murmered “a trinket really, a drinking cup.”

Seeing where the conversation might be leading, Wrenn decided to speed things up a little, “Do you know where you lost it? Or how you lost it?”. “The game of dice poker isn’t for the unlucky. I had much to lose.”

“Who did you lose it to?”, asked Wrenn. “So long ago I can’t remember… She probably wouldn’t live there any more anyway.”, replied the old man. “Well maybe I’ll see if I can… what does it look like?”, Wrenn queried.

Thinking for a moment, Devlin closed his eyes as if picturing his lost treasure. “Ornate. It’s silver, jewelled with glass beads”.

Interrupting him from his reverie, Wrenn tried to clarify some details, “OK, and you definitely can’t remember her name?”. “Who’s name, sorry?” was the frustrating response he got.

Sighing, Wrenn told Devlin, “I’ll look for your cup, then maybe if I bring it back we can talk about a trade.”. Devlin inclined his head in a nod, and Wrenn turned to open the door, happy that this wasn’t a wasted trip. He’d be back later, hopefully with something to bargain with.

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Amphibious terror

They’d been on the boat for an hour or so now, and Helge had got used to the wind and salt in his face, if not the rocking of the horizon line, which was horribly reminiscent of sea-voyage that saw him set off on this meandering journey.

He and Jason had volunteered to row the small fishing boat they’d chartered, seeing as Wrenn’s short stature made him less suited to the task, and Enna… well, Enna hadn’t offered. Jason seemed to have no problem taking a break and wielding the strange artifact the arcane institute had dropped into his outstretched but clearly nervous hands, and the party was heading off to the next segment of the bridge.

Rowing along, thinking of what interesting herbs might be growing in the crevices of the stonework that formed the gargantuan bridge that roofed their path, Helge’s reverie was suddenly disturbed by Jason pointing out an object flying way out in the distance towards the north west. He hadn’t had time to focus on it before Jason jumped up, nearly dropping his oars, barking ‘Dragon!’.

The whole party froze to watch distant, but clearly huge, leathery wings contract into the creature’s body as it plunged into an impossibly fast dive into the sea, barely making a splash.

After a minute or so they resumed rowing, silently, tensely.

Before long they began to sense a rocking in their boat. Once again, Helge was choked by fear. He had read some thing of dragons, and knew that they varied greatly in size, shape, and… temperament. The party exchanged terrified glances, and, wordlessly, Wrenn bravely peered over the side.

There was an agonising moment wherein Wrenn waited for the giant, horse-shoe shaped crest of wave to resolve itself into some indication of what was now swimming directly towards them. With a sigh, Wrenn, presumably better read on dragons than Helge himself, uttered his relief: ‘It’s ok, it’s a bronze’. Bronze dragons are known to be good-natured, friendly and inquisitive, in general, at least. Helge relaxed a little.

Jason was staring open mouthed at the dragon swimming serenely towards the boat, and then turned to Wrenn as he heard him whisper: ‘Jason, do you speak dragon?’.

‘I do!’ said Jason, as if suddenly remembering, and immediately leaned forward and shouted what was presumably some sort of greeting. The dragon returned his greeting in common: ‘Well met’.

At this point, Helge saw Jason’s smile falter for a second, as he noticed the fierce grip Enna had on her bow, and the way her eyes darted all over the dragon’s body, looking for weak spots. Jason placed a scaled hand on her arm to bring her to her senses.

The dragon spoke with amity to Jason, perhaps recognising in him some sort of kinship. He asked for news on the days fishing and related to us with moving sadness that he’d been asked to steer clear of the towns, before wishing us well and departing towards open sea, causing the boat to rock violently once again as his mighty bulk broke free of the water.

Once the party had watched the dragon shrink some way into the distance, they all relaxed and saw the relief in one another’s windswept faces, sharing a bout of nervous laughter.

‘I thought it was going to kill us’, laughed Enna, still holding her bow.

Their laughter subsided.

‘Let’s just get this done’, said Jason.

The party rowed on with renewed vigour.

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Episode 7

As Enna was dismissed from the King’s chamber after she refused to take the King’s oath she went outside the castle to meditate on a top of a tree, being noticed by guards at the gate.

Jason, Helge and Wrenn are still in the King’s chamber where now King Stendar has fallen asleep. Xander, the Lord Protector of Aarnekas, is concerned about him. He led the 3 new agents downstairs to the Council room where he told them to report to him directly. They then walked together to the Barracks where they found Amara, the commander of the guards, they all introduced themselves. She found them an unlikely lot but showed them around and told the 3 agents that they are free to use the Barracks as they please.

Xander before leaving them, pointed at a tactical map, where in the 150 sq mi Forest, some enemy forces were most likely to be close to the mines the party explored previously. It is a 2 days journey back to the mines from Ponterin. Xander gave them permission to use the stables and they could reach the edge of the forest in 1.5 days if they ride at a high pace.
Xander also made arrangements with the armory shop in town for the 3 of them so they can be better equipped for their mission. He invited them to meet the Council at the Broken Lute Inn in a hour, at 5:30pm, so they could all discuss the situation. Enna is also welcome to join them.

The armory shop

The 3 agents took their leave and went to find Enna before they headed to the armory shop. They reached it at 4:45pm. The owner is a Dwarf called Serian. Jason is very pleased with the Dwarvish sun-steel plated armor that Serian presented to him. Jason also asked for a shield and chose a deep purple semi-cylinder one with a silver emblem of Kord: a sword with a lightining bolt crossguard. Wrenn then equipped himself with a polished black leather armor reinforced with metal. Helge refused to get equipped with any armor and Enna is already well equipped.

Serian noticed Jason’s magical sword and asked if he can have a look at it. Jason accepted but was wary when Serian was holding it. The shop owner’s deciphered the runes engraved in it and told Jason its name: Bekeli. Serian opened then a very large and thick book called “the Annals of Civil War: weapons and armors”. Jason learnt that this sword passed around from hand to hand a dozen times in the last few months of the war. Serian advised Jason to study the sword and to learn on how to use it.

The Broken Lute Inn

They then all left the shop to go to the Broken Lute Inn. On arrival, Helge checked that no Orc or half-Orc was in the main room to avoid a “Enna losing it” moment. They discussed their plans for the next days around few drinks and the 3 agents checked if Enna was on board with them. They briefed her about the mission in the forest. Early morning, they will take horses from the King’s stables and ride to Grenscombe that is one day journey. Then to Kirkston the second day to get to the mines from the North. She is quite excited to help as it is most likely to end fighting and killing Orcs. But Wrenn insisted that it was a scouting mission. Helge and Jason also told her she is invited to the Council meeting with them but they asked her to be “cool”. She agreed to play along. They decided to sleep in the city and to get started first thing the next morning, As the lodging at the Inn is expensive, the 3 agents decided they will sleep later at the Barracks, Enna will happily find a tree to rest.

The council

As 5:30pm approached, they saw Xander and the other members of the Council entering the Inn and going upstairs to the master suite for their meeting. The party followed them. Xander greeted them and before further introductions took place, he had a private word with Enna, thanking her for her help and her interest in the welfare of the Kingdom. One by one, the members of the Council were introduced to the party:

The 3 agents sat down at the table, Enna standing on the back. Xander expressed his concerns that the 317 years of peace is at risk as some forces are pushing Aarnekas and Askor against each other. The priority is to find the missing princess and to provide evidence that no foul play comes from both kingdoms but from a third party. Chardan has been researching the Aarnekas line of succession and there is none other than the princess or eventually, the Duke of Rellis. Rellis is now somewhere in the desert which is difficult to find him on short notice. Xander hopes that the King’s health will not deteriorate further in the near future. The agents asked if any soldiers were sent to the Forest and if they found anything. Xander confirmed he sent a few scouts in the Grenscombe area and that he has not heard from them for several days. Not learning much that they already knew, Enna and Jason left the meeting. Before Wrenn left with Helge, Xander talked to him telepathically, warning him not to trust any messenger or raven but to use the spell “sending” instead.

The 4 of them gathered in the main room of the Inn to have dinner. Wrenn shared with the others the exchange he had with Xander on the new spell to learn. The party then split after dinner. Jason and Helge decided to go to the Arcane Institute to find a way to learn the new spell. Wrenn set himself to see Devlin as he was indicated he could acquire books from him. Enna worried by his intentions, followed him in a distance but failing to do it inconspicuously.

The Arcane Institute

Jason and Helge knocked at the Arcane Institute door and met with the Arch-mage Amrota that was busy with a group doing magic practice. They explained that they needed to learn the spell “sending” and were ready to pay in solid gold. The Arch-mage after checking their backgrounds told them that unfortunately neither of them will be able to learn the spell directly.

Instead, she proposed to lend them an artifact in her possession if they agree to undertake a research expedition. The artifact is known as the Stones of Sending, it uses the sending spell between 2 people without requiring any extra spellcasting.
The research is about the bridge between Bridgefoot and Ponterin. It is not a natural creation but a magic one. The technique has been lost and gathering back the knowledge is important to the Arcane Institute. But people are suspicious when mages are investigating about it. But a dragonborn and a monk in a boat will not attract attention. There are 5 points under the bridge to go and collect the magical information and the expedition would take a day of their time.
Jason and Helge agreed to carry on the research as the Stones of Sending would help them to communicate with Xander in a secure manner. Jason received the Rod of Detection that will collect the valuable info over the 7 miles of the bridge, all he has to do is to visualize a section of the bridge in his head while pointing the Rod at each of the 5 points Amrota indicated him. She warned him to be careful when using the rod though and she gave them a week to come back with their results. They took their leave and headed back to the Barracks to rest for the night.

Both Jason and Helge got pretty excited by this quest but they will have to convince both Wrenn and Enna to join them as their initial plan was to go to the Forest in the morning.

Devlin and the lost trinket

Wrenn walked towards the shady part of the town. There are urchins in the street, singing a nursery rhyme:

The death of a king to open the way
Bastion’s fall at break of day
A call that mortal folk must heed
The scythe that comes to cull the weed

over and over. Wrenn interrupts them to ask the way to Devlin’s place, with a not-so discreet Enna in tow. The place is dark and looks creepy. Wrenn knocked and spoke to Devlin through the door about books he might want to sell. But Devlin does not sell books, they are his. Wrenn then asked him if he was open to barter as he has himself valuable books to show to him.

The door then opened and Wrenn, quite edgy by the surroundings and his exchange with Devlin, entered and the door closed automatically behind him. Enna, on the alert of foul play, moved by the door, ready to barge in, if she would have heard Wrenn to be in danger.

Wrenn could not see much of Devlin once inside. He just saw a silhouette. Devlin confided in Wrenn that he lost an item and if Wrenn brings it back to him, then they could negotiate something. Wrenn inquired how it was lost and where. Devlin explained he lost a drinking cup, in Grenscombe, a silver cup ornate with glass bead jewels at an unlucky game of dice. He does not remember her name, it was a long time ago and she might not remembering him either. Wrenn could not get much more details. As Grenscombe is on the way to the Forest, Wrenn agreed to look into it and promised to come back. As he exited the house, he bumped into Enna by the door. They walked away together and Wrenn explained to her the quest of finding the lost item.

Before both could part ways, Wrenn to the Barracks and Enna to find a tree, 2 soldiers approached Enna, one on each side. They asked her quite rudely if she was the one climbing trees and spying. Enna trying to keep her cool, explained that she was not spying but meditating. The 2 soldiers told her in a rather insulting language to go in a tree by the market square but not by the castle. Enna started to have her hands twitching closer to her shortswords as Wrenn was looking in horror to the escalating exchange. He diffused the situation by showing his agent token, so the soldiers left. That was a close one! Enna went by the market square and Wrenn headed towards the Barracks.

The Barracks

Jason, Helge and Wrenn caught up with each other while walking towards the Barracks. Jason started to explain the research expedition to Wrenn that they could do tomorrow instead to go to the Forest. Wrenn said he will sleep on it and better to discuss it further in the morning. Helge immediately tucked in for the night. Wrenn took his Civil War history book to read and Jason studied his sword. After more than a hour of studying it, something happened. A profound understanding passed back and forth from Jason and the sword. Jason knows now how to use Bekeli, the magic sword.

Next morning, at 6 am, the party found themselves at the stables. Helge explained to Enna the research on the bridge. Enna agreed with the quest, anything to get out of the city. Wrenn also agreed as he felt learning more about the bridge could be interesting. They asked for 4 horses. Both Enna and Helge did a back flip to mount theirs. Jason managed to get on his horse but not without difficulty. Wrenn did not at all. Enna then took him by the scruff of the neck and settled him behind her, which infuriated him.

The Research expedition

They rode in a hour to Bridgefoot They let the horses at the local stables and went to the fishery to rent a boat. They asked a Halfling there and after paying him, the 4 of them were on a boat.

Jason and Helge rowed the boat towards the first magic point of the bridge. Jason did as indicated, visualizing the section of the bridge in his head while pointing the rod. All went successfully. They moved on to the next point when they saw something really, really big, flying, diving and swimming towards them. The party started to get anxious when a bronze dragon appeared nearby their boat. Enna put one of her hands on her longbow but Jason calmed her down with his arm around her shoulders. The dragon turned to be friendly, asking for fish. But as the party was not fishing, he flew away.

The party was rather relieved and continued their route to the second point. Jason repeated the process and they pushed to the third point. They saw a large sailing ship, probably cargo going to port but nothing noticeable about it, so they kept rowing to the next point. Jason once more used the rod successfully. Same thing for the 4th and 5th point. All the magic information was collected. A great success.

On the way back, Helge started to be seasick so Wrenn and Enna helped rowing the boat with Jason.

The journey back to Bridge foot was going rather well when several dark shapes approached the boat: 10 merfolk coming their way. 5 of them encircled the boat and the other 5 stayed in a distance. They started to attack the boat and stabbed both Wrenn and Enna.
Enna badly hit, was infuriated and went on slashing 2 of them, a vicious looking one and another with a scarred face that Wrenn killed with his rapier. Helge sliced a sneering one and kicked him so brutally that he died crushed. Jason went on slicing a nose-less one.
Then the 5 merfolk that stayed away threw their spears all at once to the boat. Jason cast a protecting spell for Enna but the rest of them were hit. The 3 merfolk still alive from the first wave charged again. Enna pierced the heart of the vicious one, killing him instantly. Wrenn tried to slice more of them but with no success. Enna slashed at a tattooed face one that Jason killed in a swift movement. And finally, Helge punched the nose-less one so hard that his head caved in.
The rest of the merfolk dived to escape but Wrenn in a killing fury mode, shot one with his bow, hit him as he swam away.

Once the path was safe again, they resumed rowing towards Bridgefoot and arrived late in the evening to the shore.

They went directly to get their horses and rode back to Ponterin without delay. They arrived at 9:30pm to the King’s stables and walked to the Arcane Institute to give back the rod and get the promised artifact. It was very late so they met with Cassius as the Archmage was not around. He has been briefed on the research mission so he led them to the Archives where bookshelves go in all directions. Jason put the Rod of Detection is a case slot that showed in front of him and the rod disappeared from view. Then, Cassius opened a cabinet and handed over 2 stones inscribed with talking faces. A voice said “I do not give you but lend you the Stones of Sending.” Cassius precised that the stones are staying the property of the Arcane Institute but can be used indefinitely. He added that the stones also need to be attuned to their users and looking at Jason, he said: “the same way you have attuned to your sword, you know what to do.”

It was 10:05pm when they finally left the Arcane Institute to get some rest. They were exhausted but happy to have successfully achieve their quest. Enna went back to the tree by the market square. Jason, Helge and Wrenn walked back to the Barracks.

The next morning, they agreed to meet with Xander to give him one of the Stones of Sending and then to immediatley depart in the direction of Grenscombe.

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Episode 6

We left our adventurers exploring an abandoned mine and rejoin them just after a perilous fight with some zombies. After interrogating then killing a bizarre and frightening cultist, the party is now stood surveying the carnage of the battle.

The Rest of the Mine

After taking everything in the room that wasn’t nailed down (including a book full of stange symbols), the group of adventurers pressed on, cautiously navigating the corridors off of the room they fought in. They encountered several cave-ins, which would have been disappointing had Helge not found some gems in the rubble.

Eventually the group entered a wider room cut across the middle by a ravine. As they neared the edge they felt a tugging in their minds and a voice spoke to them, revealing some of their thoughts and secrets.

Most of the group leapt across the ravine without trouble, but Salzar hung back. He had been deep in thought and explained to everyone that he must travel to Askor to research the book that they found. After watching Salzar disappear into the darkness, the rest of the party moved on down a gravel slope through a much wider cavern.

Suddenly in the darkness a large green eye appeared, and the source of the earlier voice was revealed. The owner of the eye was a Nothic, pissed off to find intruders in its lair. Failing to come to a diplomatic resolution, the Nothic attacked.

Wrenn was the first target, he felt tendrils of corrupting rot creeping through his flesh as the Nothic targeted him with a rotting gaze. The gnome, a little panic-stricken, stumbled and fired an arrow at the Nothic which missed and clattered off into the cave behind. He regained his composure and quickly scrambled behind a nearby rock to hide.

Responding quickly, Enna shot her bow at their enemy and her arrow found its mark. Helge and Jason immediately began to run down the gravel slope towards the Nothic, throwing a dart and a javelin as they ran.

Confused by the missing gnome, the Nothic attempted a rotting gaze on Enna who managed to shrug it off. Wrenn popped out of cover to fire an arrow at the Nothic, this time hitting it, while Enna dropped her bow and started to run down the slope.

In unison Helge, Enna, and Jason slashed at the Nothic beating it bloody with their swords. Helge kicked the air in celebration – it looked really cool. In a last attempt at retaliation the Nothic swiped its claws at Enna and Jason, missing the dragonborn but gouging flesh from the elf’s arm.

Wrenn, seeing his chance to look awesome, ran down the gravel slope and slid between Enna and Jason, thrusting his rapier at their enemy. Unfortunately he completely misjudged his attack and his rapier glanced off. Wincing at his companion’s embarassment, Helge jabbed his sword straight through the Nothic’s eye, showering himself and Wrenn with blood and viscera.

With the Nothic defeated, the party noticed two chests that it had been guarding. The first contained some gold and an ornate longsword, which Wrenn and Jason started to examine. While their backs were turned Enna reached to open the second chest, upon touching it her hand became stuck fast.

Hearing Enna’s cry for help, the rest of the group rushed to her side. After debating what to do next, the party decide it’d be best to attack. While Enna tried to pull her hand away, Helge hit the chest with his flaming torch, Wrenn stabbed at it with his rapier, and Jason slashed at it with his longsword. Not wanting to miss out, Enna used her free hand to slash at the chest as well but missed – it’s difficult to fight when your hand is stuck to your target.

As Jason hit the chest once more, Helge unthinkingly punched it; his hand became stuck fast too. Suddenly the chest opened revealing a drooling maw with hundreds of teeth in countless rows. Snapping shut again, it took a large bite of Enna who passed out and fell backwards, unstuck at last.

Wrenn pulled Enna away from the fight and tried to stabilise her while Helge and Jason continued to attack the living chest. The monstrosity’s body morphed suddenly and an arm-like appendage clubbed Jason, becoming stuck to him as well. Determining that Enna should be OK, Wrenn jumped angrily back into the fray – he thrust his rapier into the chest’s mouth as it started to open and the monster screamed out, defeated and slowly melting into a pool of goo.

After dispatching the chest, the adventurers explored the rest of the mine. This passed uneventfully, aside from Jason getting temporarily stuck in a cave-in – luckily he had the strength to pull himself out. Finding nothing more of interest, everyone decided it would be a good idea to leave the mine and continue on their journey.

Wydcote

Leaving the mine, the party travelled south through the forest, following the ancient road that they saw earlier. As evening drew in, they reached the edge of the wood and were greeted by the sight of the Inner Reft in the distance. Mid-way between the Inner Reft and the forest stood a small village silhouetted against the sea, where the party decided to spend the night.

As the adventurers got closer to the village, they began to see signs that something was wrong – many of the buildings looked damaged and the roof of the largest had caved in. Wrenn and Enna decided to scout ahead and investigate.

Sneaking around the corner of the first building, Wrenn froze in place, gesturing to Enna. In the doorway of the largest building a huge Owlbear was sleeping. After managing to convince her that fighting it by themselves would be a bad idea, they returned to the rest of the group. Deciding that they needed to rest desperately and weren’t prepared for a fight , they skirted around the village and into the back of a different house.

After barricading the doors and windows the party managed to sleep, taking turns to watch and listen for movement outside. In the morning, the Owlbear was nowhere to be seen.

As everybody packed their things and prepared to move on, Jason asked the group whether they could bear witness to an oath he wished to make. He explained the story of his evil twin and his companions followed him to a nearby shrine that served the village. Here he took an oath of vengeance.

Journey to Ponterin

After a little arguing (and a vote) on what to do next, the group decided to journey back to Ponterin and report their progress to Lord Protector Xander.

Around midday, the party reached Anemst – a small village by the coast. The village consisted of only a boat-house, several small huts, and a small outside store where dried fish was hanging. Wrenn bought some delicious haddock and engaged the storekeep in conversation, asking about what happened at Wydcote. The storekeep explained that it’d been sacked by orcs from the forest to the North, and that there was never any news from Ponterin.

Leaving Anemst, the adventurers continued their journey south-west, eventually reaching the town of Imrelis in the early evening. Looking for somewhere to sleep, and lacking an inn, the group approached one of the larger houses and asked the occupants whether they could pay for beds for the night.

After Helge enquired about the night life, their hosts offered up mead and everyone settled down for a game of dice. Wrenn won, of course, and the party bedded down for the night.

In the morning, waving goodbye to their hosts, the group left Imrelis and continued on to Ponterin (Wrenn sneakily left some coin in the house as a thank you). Nothing much happened on the way, except Enna trying to push Wrenn in a frosty pool.

Ponterin

Entering through the gates of Ponterin, the party immediately noticed an increase in the number of guards around the place. Troops of soldiers marched past looking serious and the civilians in the street looked tense.

Reaching the large market square that marked the city center, the group noticed a halfling trader being accosted by several guards. Overhearing that the trader was late in his payments, and not liking to see another small person get accosted by humans, Wrenn ran over and pretended to know the halfling. He offered up money and the party narrowly avoided a fight.

The halfling introduced himself as Heffyd and offered up information in payment. He explained that the guard had been raised but that nothing much in the way of news had reached the general populace. He also gave the group some advice on where to sell their treasure.

Deciding not to waste more time, everyone decided to make their way to the palace to see Xander, the Lord Protector. After showing the royal seal to some guards, the party intruded on the end of a council meeting. Xander seemed pleased to see them and listened patiently as they told him of what they’d learned.

He ended by offering for the group to become agents of the crown, making their work official. Wrenn stipulated that he’d like to meet the king in person before doing so and the group agreed to take some time to discuss the proposition. Xander asked them to return later that day.

Attempting to sell the gems they found in a reputable jewellers, the party realised that they were being ripped off. On the advice of Heffyd they journeyed to the south-west quarter of the city which was more run down and shady than the rest of Ponterin. An urchin pick-pocketed Helge as they walked, and disappeared before anyone could react.

They entered The Ogre’s Rest, a dingy tavern along the main road. The impression everyone got was “this place is dodgy”, and it was difficult to prevent Enna from attacking a group of half-orcs. The barman, Content Not Found: hanalor, told the group that the best place to sell valuables would be Della’s Jewellers up the road a little way.

The party wandered up to the jewellers and Wrenn went in first, signalling slyly to Jason to prevent Enna from entering. His intuition was correct – Della was a half-orc and he didn’t need the orc-hating elf messing up the deal. Enna noticed the shadiness, and Wrenn spoke straight with her. Enna seemed to accept that selling the rubies was more important than her desire to intimidate a shop keeper.

Wrenn and the others entered the shop and mentioned to Della that Heffyd had sent them. Della seemed to warm to the group and she gave them a good price for all the gems, after a little haggling.

The group decided it was time to go and see Xander once again, who they met to one side of the throne room in the palace. He led them through a doorway, up a tall tower staircase, and through a hatch. In the room above they were met by an old man in a four-poster bed – who they quickly understood to be King Stendar.

He looked weak and old, and was racked by coughing fits, but he greeted the party and spoke bluntly – “so you would take my coin?”. He discussed the proposal that the group become agents of the crown, expressing that there was a dire need for somebody to deal with The Broken Crown.

The party then took the Kingsman’s Oath declaring loyalty to the crown in turn (except Enna). The king instructed his new agents to find the Broken Crown stronghold in the forest to the north, and deal with the immediate threat.

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Enna's Story

The early years (285NK-305NK)

From a very young age, Enna’s imagination was always transported to ancient times and worlds when listening to the old Elven Tales. The Elves Gathering in evenings were a true delight for her, when the Elders sang the stories. Her mind was overwhelmed by the true heroism of her ancestors, her eyes shining of all the lights of the starry sky.

The race duality that she carried in her, made her struggling during all her childhood, on how to behave and then feeling conflicted on which path to choose for her adult life as she loved both her parents, her mother Emeline, being Human, her father, Iankian, being an Elf.

She had to learn music and art among other things in the mornings, been commanded by her Human mother so her education prepared her for adult social duties. She complied to please her mother but she was not much interested in all this. In the afternoons, she had free quarters and she was outside with her friends where she relived these grand battles that she heard about. She loved to play the dragon slayer, to climb trees, to run around, to feel so energetic. Her best friends were also intrepid as she was and more than once, they all got in trouble: going to places in the city of Askor that were forbidden to them, the sewers in particular. She had an immediately engaging personality, radiating so much confidence that her friends would have followed her everywhere.

She learned how to fight, encouraged by her father who wanted the Elf side of her to be complete. Her father was pushing her to embrace her fears to not be inhibited by them but to drive her focus and sheer willpower. And she just applied that. She mastered the short-bow, but preferred the long bow and short swords. The practice was hard, often she had so many bruises on her arms and hands that she could barely lift anything.

When she becomes a teenager, her mother started looking for a potential suitor for her so she could get married in her early years of adulthood. Her search was among young men that would bring strong ties with their family , to grow their influence in the Outer Council of Askor. But Enna did not want any of this, she never cares much for the politics that her mother was so involved into.

When she received a marriage proposal from Balkas, an Elf she liked, him having a pretty face and nice manners and all that, she climbed her favorite tree to the top and thought hard about what to do. All of her friends were getting married, having children and something deep stirred in her. She could not do it, this was not the life she was after. She was longing for adventures and discovering places. She wanted to travel the world and meet people. The call was too strong to resist.

She declined getting married, packed a bag and left the city within hours. She said goodbye to her parents, her mother was utterly sad but Enna could see the pride in her father’s eyes. Here she was, on the road, having broken all the chains that pinned her down, leaving family and friends behind, looking forward to another life: a free and independent life.

Enna’s true calling (305K-317K)

The entertainer (305K-315K)

Enna was following the main road from Askor when a caravan heading in the same direction stopped. A jovial man greeted her and asked her if she wanted a lift. Enna recognized him as Komos Numena, the leader of entertainers that performed at a private party she attended two days ago. She and her father sang with them an Elvish ballad. What she did not know is Iankian, her father, paid Komos a large sum of gold for securing a position for her in his troupe, so she can explore the world safely and not by wandering alone. Iankian asked him to keep this arrangement secret and Komos agreed to it.

Enna accepted the offer of travelling with them, glad for some company to distract her from her own thoughts, at least to the next town. Komos introduced her to the troupe: Merric and Lidda Goodbarrel, both Halfling jugglers/jesters, Miri Buckman, Human singer/dancer and Thokk, Half-Orc fire-eater. They recognised her and greeted her warmly. Travelling in their company was pleasant, Enna was at ease, even smiling gently at the intense stare of Thokk.

Komos asked her where she was going. Enna did not have much of an answer except exploring the kingdoms and see where that would lead her into. Komos nodded while she spoke and then made the proposition of her joining them, having sung with her and listened to her playing the viol, she would be a good fit in their troupe and with the extra bonus of hopping from town to town, being paid, free accommodation and transport.

Enna could not believe her luck! It sounded like a very good start to her journey into the world. She was a bit overwhelmed by it but Komos and the others cheered her up with songs and jokes. And so, Enna became a full performer, at different venues all over the country, from inns to rich mansions, and not to forget the numerous village square markets.

They travelled everywhere, camping on the road. Enna loved it. She met so many different races and learnt their ways of life. A great variety of food too, some she discovered that do not always agree with her stomach. The life was good and peaceful. She grown very fond of each of them and they became an extended family. Merric and Lidda were very kind, Enna loved being their guinea pig for their new jests they were rehearsing. She practised her singing with Komos and Miri. And played the viol for the new dance Miri was practising. And the laughs they had, Komos always ready for a good joke had an extensive repertoire.

When camping, Thokk and her did their chores together, mainly getting the campfire started and hunting in the woods. They became good friends, having an understanding of what being a half-race means, not belonging truly to one race or another. They talked a lot about everything and liked very much their walk in the forests. Thokk was very fond of her, a lot more that he would admit to her. She, on the other end, was liking him a lot like a brother.

And years passed and Enna was full content or so she believed. It was late in the year of 314K and her world was made upside down when Komos introduced the troupe to a new comer, Carric Naïlo, Dark Elf storyteller/tumbler. When both Carric and Enna greeted each other, something strong was exchanged, stunning both of them. A deep bond between their souls and their hearts. They became one without any logical explanation. They both felt it very deeply. Merric and Lidda exchanged a wink, knowing when love struck, nothing much you can do about it. Miri and Komos laughed but Thokk was horrified.

Enna was now spending all her free time with Carric. They loved their walks together, Carric was caring, gentle and a very good storyteller. Enna loved listening to him and watching him, finding his lilac eyes, dark skin, white hair and good features so attractive. Such a contrast with her red hair and green eyes. They shared such an understanding than just looking at each other and they knew what the other meant. Everyone seeing them together could see how much love was radiating between them.

Thokk was in agony. He felt totally let down. Nothing he could do to get Enna’s attention anymore. He was losing appetite and sleep. Miri saw that something was wrong but Thokk rebuffed her when she asked what was going on. Thokk turned sour and bitter inside, loathing Carric deeply.

After one show they did in a town, he went to the shady area and got drunk in an establishment where thugs hang out. He could not bear the sight of Carric and Enna anymore. He spoke to Grarzuk, Orc, thief and assassin, on how he wanted to see Carric dead so life could go back as before. Grarzuk told him, for 50gp, he could do the job. Thokk told him where they will camp the next day when enroute to the next town, He gave him 50gp and drunkenly walked out, crashing asleep into a bush by the large square market. The next day, Thokk woke up, hangover, joined the rest of the troupe to pack for their journey. He saw Grarzuk lurking around and the full discussion came back to him. It made him smile widely, no remorse to have hired an assassin but a great joy to think that Carric will be dead soon.

They travelled all day and Komos guided their carriage to a clearing bordered by a stream and woods. The place was peaceful. They all got into the routine to prepare the camp. Enna and Carric went to hunt, Merric and Lidda gathered firewood, Komos and Miri unloaded the carriage and Thokk went to the stream to get some fresh water. He found Grarzuk who was hiding there. He whispered to him to come back later. He nodded and went back to the camp for supper, smiling at the thought of the future death of Carric.

After supper, Enna and Carric went for a stroll into the woods as usual. They both loved climbing trees and talked for hours on end. No skirmish nor attack ever happened in this part of the country so Komos decided there was no need to keep watch. They went to bed early except Thokk. He went back to the stream and found Grarzuk with 4 other Orcs. He then understood that they will attack the camp. He argued with Grarzuk who put a knife on his throat saying that either he dies now or he obeys him. The other Orcs pulled their blades and threatened him to cut him into pieces. Thokk has no escape and better to do as told.

Enna and Carric walked back late in the night to the camp and fell asleep by the campfire where everyone was already sound asleep. They did not notice Thokk was missing. The Orcs approached silently towards the camp, each having chosen one to kill. Grarzuk was on Carric, afterall he was paid to kill him. Thokk all nervous chose Lidda, cowardly thinking that if things go badly, she would not represent much of a threat. When all in position, the Orcs shouted a war cry. Enna instinctively rolled on the side, waking up instantly, avoiding to be pierced by a longsword. The others of the troupe did not stand a chance. Grarzuk beheaded Carric with his axe. Enna was in shock, could not move but made out that Thokk was part of the assailants. She screamed his name and he looked at her, snarled and threw his sword at her. It cut her through her shoulders and Grarzuk stabbed her in the back. She fell on the ground, looking at the headless body of Carric. Thokk kicked her in the head and all went black.

The hunter (316K)

“Lara mime óma. Atatúla ana i kal”
(Hear my voice. Come back to the light)

“Lara mime óma. Atatúla ana i kal. Lara mime óma. Atatúla ana i kal”

Enna was dreaming an Elf was speaking to her. She came back from the darkness, following the voice and opened her eyes. She saw the Elf sitting at the bedside, and looked around. She was in a wooden hut. The memories of the attack came back to her and she became agitated and shouted: “Carric! Melloneamin!” (Carric! My friends!)

“Ro naa qualin. Ilyë ron naa qualin” (He is dead. they are all dead) replied the Elf in a sad voice. Big tears rolled out of Enna’s eyes.

“Amin naa Naelar, Cala’quessir, Taur’ohtar. Mani naa essa en lle?”
(I am Naelar, High-Elf, Ranger. What is your name?)

“Amin naa Enna, Peredhel, Nyello”
(I am Enna, Half-Elf, Singer)

“Mae govannen Enna”
(Well met Enna)

“Mae govannen Naelar. Manke naa lye? Sut an nae amin sinome?”
(Well met Naelar. Where are we? How long I have been here?")

“Lle naa neldë enquië sinome. Lle anta est. lle nae naiharna. Lle anta comya alwa”
(You have been here 3 weeks. You need to rest. You were badly wounded. You need to gather strength)

“Amin fauka.”
(I am thirsty)

Naelar gave her some water to drink.

“Diola lle”
(Thank you)

And Enna fell back to sleep.

She woke up the next day, refreshed but feeling frail. Her wounds were healed leaving faint scars. Naelar was not around. She helped herself with some rabbit stew that was kept warm in the fireplace and a nice loaf of bread that was on the table. She was famished and wolfed it down quickly. She found her clothes folded on a chair, they were cleaned and mended. She dressed up and ventured outside. The hut was in a small clearing surrounded by tall trees. She looked around but there was no sign of activity, only the tree shadows and a slight breeze that touched her face. She took a deep breath and decided to climb the nearest tree. The climb was laborious, her muscles not having worked for some time now, she took her time, slowly, branch after branch, until she reached a spot that she could see further in the horizon and comfortable enough for her to rest. The sun was high, there are no houses in the horizon, only the forest as far as your eyes can see.

She meditated on the attack, the death of her friends and her soulmate Carric, the betrayal of Thokk. She now understood the deep hatred the Elf race has for Orcs: a race of brutal warriors who know little of mercy or kindness. She thought Thokk was different as Carric, a Drow, was from the usual characteristics of his race. How naive she has been. She remembered the face of each of them: Carric, Komos, Miri and Merric and Lidda. How much love and kindness they gave her. She wept a lot but she also felt enraged by the thought of Thokk and the other Orcs that slew them. She fixed in her memory all the details of her assailants she could remembered and decided that she will not have any rest until the murders of her friends were avenged. A new sense of purpose was flowing through her. Feelings of vengeance, punishment, deep hatred were filling her. Her green eyes were flashing with rage when she climbed down the tree.

It was sunset when she reached the ground. Naelar was coming back to the hut. He looked tired, his clothes muddy, 2 dead pheasants on his shoulders. He was pleased to see her awake and moving around. She thank him for taking care of her. Naelar smiled and asked her if she would help him preparing the 2 pheasants for roasting.

While working side by side, Naelar told her how he found her barely breathing and having lost a lot of blood, 2 days after the attack. He brought her to his hut to heal. He cast the spells “Lanta kaima” (Sleep) and “Tanka harwar” (Heal) so she could recover quickly without suffering. He went back to what was left of the camp several times to bury the dead bodies and to follow the tracks of the Orcs. Enna told him that she wanted to go back, to where her friends were buried and also, confided in him that she will avenge their deaths. Naelar looked at her and said: “Cuamin linduva yassen megrille” (My bow shall sing with your sword). Enna paused and with a fixed stared, she replied “L’quelin Orco naa ba Orco as lala cas” (“The best Orc is a dead Orc with no head”).

Naelar suggested that after the long period of convalescence, Enna would need to be in shape for the hunt. She agreed that to do some fight training would be a good idea but her weapons were at the camp. Naelar took out of a wooden chest a bundle which contained a longbow and 2 short swords. He picked them up from the ransacked camp, knowing that they were Elven weapons. The longbow has been broken and the short swords were thrown away by the stream. Naelar told her that he can repair the longbow. When Enna wrapped her fingers around the hilts of the short swords, she felt good, very good and picturing the Orcs, very bloodthirsty. He offered to develop her tracking skills as fighting will come handy when they found the Orcs but learning how to find them was coming first.

And she trained, hard and harder, day after day. Naelar was pushing her like her father did when she was younger, meaning not much respite. But she did not complain even when her body was aching so much that she could barely move without wincing, always focus on her revenge. She listened to the sounds in the forest, to recognise what they were. She smelled and tasted the air, to describe the scents all around her. She read an impression in the mud or a bend in a twig like words on a printed page. She covered her footprints, avoided snapping twigs, and concealed her own trail. She rendered herself nearly invisible by flattening her body in such a way that she could blend into dark areas, and remaining perfectly still while doing so. Naelar taught her how to move with a minimum of sound, almost as if she was walking on air. Naelar was impressed how fast she was progressing but he was in no hurry, wanted to make sure her desire for revenge was not momentary.

6 months passed and finally, Enna was ready: sharp-eyed and hardened by the training and more than ever hungry for revenge. But more than 7 months have passed since the attack and surely the trail was now cold. Naelar told her that first thing they will go to the upcoming forgathering, an informal get-togethers for Rangers. There, they will meet with Arannis Liadon and Mindartis Amakiir. Both of them long-time Rangers, covered large territories and they discovered the attacked camp as he did. They helped him to bring Enna back to the hut. They promised to each other to look out for the Orcs and to gather any information they could. They would know where the Orcs went.

Such foregatherings are secret and they had to follow strange symbols carved on trees or stones, intended as guideposts to lead them to the forgathering site. They arrived with their hands full with pheasants, rabbits and fruits. A large group of Rangers had already set up tents and makeshift tables. Quite a few kegs of Ale were nearby and a couple of boars were roasting in large campfires. Target practicing was under way and a few rangers were busying themselves in mock battles using swords and spears bound with thick layers of cloth. A lot of Rangers greeted Naelar and Enna was then introduced to her first foregathering. As a first-timer, she had been assigned to guard duty for the night. She did not care as long she could talk with Arannis and Mindartis. Naelar found them watching the target practice while sipping ales. After the three of them exchanged greetings and news from people they knew, Arannis and Mindartis acknowledged Enna and both were glad to see that she recovered well from the attack. Naelar asked them what information they had on the Orcs and information, they had plenty.

The Orcs attacked 3 camps in Arannis’ territory and one camp in Mindartis’. They moved fast from one place to another and took the North direction to the mountains. Reading their tracks told the Rangers that they were 6 of them. Mindartis proposed that the 4 of them go to the village nearby the mountains to check if they passed through and to pick up their trail. Arannis, Naelar and Enna agreed and decided to leave the foregathering the day after next.

They run all day and most part of the night for 9 days non stop before they reached the village after dark. They covered a large distance in no time. There they stopped by the local Inn and listened to the patrons’ discussions. A caravan has been attacked the day before at 2 days walk from the village. They looked at each other and the 4 of them left quietly the Inn and started to run towards the location of the camp. They reached it at dawn and for 2 hours they deciphered all the tracks they found. 6 attackers they were, which fit with the group they were after, one with an axe. They took a short break to eat some fruits and bread. They discussed their next moves and followed the tracks that were heading into the woods at the feet of the mountains.

They did not run but walked slowly and silently, examining the ground and the trees. Enna was applying all she learnt from Naelar. Arannis and Mindartis congratulated her and Naelar on the accomplishment and welcomed her as a true Ranger. Enna was very, very proud of herself. The trail was fresh enough for them to follow without much difficulty. At the end of the day, they found a campfire, cold from the day before and with enough tracks to know that the Orcs spent few hours there. The Orcs must have felt safe enough to move at a slow pace or were they waiting for someone? The Rangers kept pushing in the woods, listening to each sound, smelling the air.

It took them the full night and the entire following day but then all of them smelled it: campfire and something roasting. They came to an halt. Arannis went scouting while the others blended themselves in the undergrowth, silent and still. He came back a couple of hours later and confirmed that they were the ones that attacked Enna’s camp from her description, Thokk was there too. Enna’s eyes were reflecting pure hatred. Enna was ready to move into battle but the others told her that it was preferable to wait and watch their routine. They approached closer to the camp, silently and took such positions that no one could know that 4 Rangers were nearby.

The Orcs and Thokk looked nervous, something was afoot. They stopped moving as they heard a group approaching the camp. 3 Goblins and 3 Orcs accompanying a Dragonborn entered the camp. The Dragonborn looked evil. The Orc with the axe (Grarzuk) acknowledged the Dragonborn and both of them went to discuss something apart from the others who gathered around the campfire to eat. The Dragonborn talked at length putting both hands on the shoulders of Grarzuk as he was convincing him of something. The Rangers could not hear the exchange. After the Orc nodded, agreeing with the Dragonborn, they joined the others to eat. They all took their quarters for the night, being watched by the 4 immobile Rangers.

In the morning, the Dragonborn and his followers left. Grarzuk gave orders to leave camp in the opposite direction. The Rangers left their positions and continue to follow their trail. They did that for a week. Their route was getting deeper into the forest. Enna had trouble to keep in check her hatred but Naelar, Arannis and Mindartis calmed her and asked her to be patient. They needed to find the right opportunity to strike. And it came just to that.

The weather was turning into winter and they felt they did not have the equipment for it. Arannis summoned an eagle and left the others to gather what they would need. The eagle will help Arannis to keep in touch with the rest of the group. Enna heard about the bonding with animal companions in the Elven Tales but it was the first time she witnessed it. She was in awe of Arannis. The Orcs reached an old watermill, mostly in ruins and camped there. The next day, Grarzuk gave orders to the others to consolidate the place. They were going to stay there for some time. Mindartis sent the eagle to Arannis so he will know where they are and the Rangers still blending with the surroundings waited. The Orcs were taking their time to repair the place. This told the Rangers that they will not expect more to come and that they had a false sense of security.

When Arannis came back, they were all happy to have warm clothes to wrap themselves into as the temperatures being so close to the mountains dropped down quickly at night. Naelar explained to Arannis what happened since he left and the routine the Orcs kept. He also made him understand that they might not be able to contain Enna for too long. She was indeed getting desperate to strike. They waited for another 2 days so Arannis get acquainted with the surroundings and the movement of the Orcs. There was one moment of the day that would be a good opportunity to kill 4 of them when they get into the forest to either hunt, gather firewood or cut branches to repair the place. They are separated from each other and not in view of the watermill. Grarzuk and Thokk were staying in the ruins, Grarzuk keeping Thokk in sight, not trusting him to stay put.

The Rangers silently moved out from their hidings and each of them picked up one Orc to kill. All happened very quickly. Naelar climbed a tree and rapidly shot 3 arrows, one in the heart, one in the throat and one in the eye so quickly that the Orc dropped dead without making a sound. Naelar was grinning, quite satisfied with himself. Mindartis walked so silently that the Orc did not hear him coming from behind. He cut his throat in a swift movement and left as he came. Arannis who was in a tree, in one movement, dropped on top of the Orc, planted his long sword in his skull and rolled on the ground. The Orc died instantly. Arannis spat on him and put a feet on his body to take back his sword. Enna was hiding in a bush when the Orc passed by, her short swords ready. Her hands were steady, she did not hesitate, she becomes a whirlwind of steel and beheaded him. The Orc’s head rolled on the ground, eyes wide opened, his body slumped into the ground. Enna looked at him with cold, hardened eyes. The 4 Rangers regrouped, nodded at each other to indicate that the 4 Orcs were dead and decided to go for the 2 remaining in the watermill. Enna told them that Thokk was hers, she was not asking.

Arannis sent the eagle to check where Grarzuk and Thokk were. The eagle came back and told that they were both on the other side of the watermill. The 4 rangers crawled towards the ruins and advanced slowly to the left corner. All of a sudden, Grarzuk appeared and saw Naelar in front of him. He drew and swung his axe before Naelar could hit him with his sword. Arannis and Mindartis shot arrows killing Grarzuk but not quick enough as Naelar fell dead on the ground. Enna broke into a run to where Thokk was standing, bewildered by the commotion. When he saw Enna coming his way, his eyes opened in terror and started to run away. She drew her long bow and shot him in the legs and in the back. He tripped on the ground, still alive. Enna stood above him as Thokk was begging for his life and forgiveness, telling her that the Orcs forced him to attack the camp. Enna drew her short swords and took a long hatred look at him, her green eyes were intense.

Nae saian luume’. Amin feuya ten’ lle
(It has been too long. You disgust me)

and she cut his head off. She stayed there, thinking of Carric and her friends. Her revenge was complete. She was exulting.

Then she remembered Naelar falling and ran back to him. Arannis and Mindartis were by his side, weeping. Enna joined them and sadness enveloped her. They buried him in the forest, among trees that he cherished so much. Enna stood by his grave silently for a while and then gave him her farewell:

Cormamin niuve tenna’ ta elea lle au’. Quel kaima mellonamin.
(My heart shall weep until it sees thee again. Sleep well my friend)

She decided to go back to the wooden hut of Naelar and travelled back for a while with Arannis and Mindartis. They said their goodbyes at the village by the mountains, Arannis and Mindartis leaving together and Enna staying behind to rest before the long journey.

The Orc Killer (317K)

Enna made a promise on Naelar’s grave that she will have no respite until she destroys the Orc species. From now on, one single, all-consuming goal motivates Enna to the exclusion of all else. For Naelar, Carric, Komos, Miri, Merric and Lidda she will put her deadly focus on the grim task of protecting the borderlands. She has found her true calling.

Enna left the village after a good night and day of rest. She felt so alive and happy to hit the road. She much prefers wandering than staying put. It started to get dark when she first smelled a campsite nearby. She approached it carefully and after observing it, she walked straight to it. Two half-Orcs were eating by the campfire. They greeted her amicably and invited her to share their food. Enna smiled, paused, closed her eyes briefly and she felt entranced by the idea. In a flash, she drew her short swords and killed them savagely on the spot. She looked at them, satisfied with herself, took a deep breath and resumed her walking.

Because after all, “L’quelin Orco naa ba Orco as lala cas” (“The best Orc is a dead Orc with no head”).

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When Enna refuses to take a royal oath...

“Fools!”

That was the first thought that came to her mind when she exited the Royal chamber after she refused to take the King’s allegiance.

“They are fools to not think how deep runs the oath they took. In a place where obviously some magic floats around. And for what? money! How greedy they can be, selling themselves like that! Don’t they see that keeping a free soul is more important than money, in these dark times when Orcs are unleashed.”

The only thought of Orcs killing around with such impunity makes her twitching her 2 short-swords on her back.

“Breathe, I have to keep a cool head. How the Little One called me again? ah yes, a psychopath! Too bad I missed pushing him in that water earlier, a bath would have done him good! If only he knew…[Remembering] dead, they are now all dead.”

She climbs a tree and sits down on the higher branch, deep in thought.

“I cannot let them down. Been through so much together. But this! I will need to keep an eye on them now, more than ever. I do not trust much this King and his men. It is not they cannot fight, no, they are good fighters but money is their weakness. What a band of misfits, we all are! Them the money, me the Orcs and Salzar power.

Ah yes, Salzar! cannot believe this guy leaving us in the mines, buggering off as he did. He proved himself ok in a fight and been useful more than once but I cannot say I trust him. Too full of himself and driven by pure ambition it seems. He always challenges us to the core, wonder what exactly he has in mind and what power he is after. I guess he will stick around with us as long as we serve some obscure purpose for him. Twisted mind he has.

Unlike Jason. Jason! The dragonborn! I kind of like him, a big brother watching out for me. Hahaha, clumsy too, but one you can trust. It is black and white with him, you always know where he stands but his appetite of money is no good. And his business with his evil twin and Orcs, dark stuff, got to help him there. And if there are Orcs to kill, I am always ready for a fight.

As Helge, surprisingly, what a fighter! the monk that was so full of booze when we met him…. Diving first in the battle as he has no will to live long. He changed a lot in the past few weeks. Still loving the booze though but getting more confident and taking initiatives. The fists of his are proven quite something in battles and I respect him more and more. He can talk wisely too…between drinks. Talking about wisdom, the Little One, Wrenn!

He proves himself a lot useful but I cannot believe all these virtues he exhibits are true. So cheesy! He is a con man that is not to be forgotten. His love of money and books are too strong and what the creature said? Ah yes, selling his body for a coin, hahaha, half a coin would be more fitting! but what can I say? I am a sucker for a pretty face, the dark green eyes of his…. starting to be fond of him…. a lot… Oh take a grip of yourself! Brush away these feelings! And focus! They are all in danger that they do not even foresee!"

Enna climbs down the tree, waiting for the rest of the group to exit the castle and taking it from here. " After all, more Orcs will cross our pass. “L’quelin Orco naa ba Orco as lala cas” (“The best Orc is a dead Orc with no head”)

Comfort words that makes Enna feel better already!

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The Aarnekensian Kingsman’s Oath

I, name
Do take this oath
To the Kingdom of Aarnekas
To its King and his House
To obey him and his agents
Until the day I die
The Gods so help me.

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Wrenn's Story: A Gnome Of Many Gnames

On the first day of the month of Fallow, the town of Benklur celebrates the transition from Winter to Spring. Every year the gnome population decorate their tree-top houses with flowers and spring leaves, in a festival that both welcomes the spring and banishes the last of the winter rain.

This particular year, two of the townspeople weren’t joining in the festivities: Eldon and Gael were otherwise-occupied. The morning of the fourth of Fallow, a heavily pregnant Gael had been in labour for three days – their first (and as it would turn out, only) child was proving to be difficult to manage from the outset.

When he was eventually born later that day, they named their boy Wrenn, after the bird – he was small even by gnome standards.

Eldon

An eighteen year old Wrenn stood solemnly by his mother’s side, comforting her as they stood at the base of their tree. Friends and family were gathered around them, but Wrenn barely noticed the company; he was focused on the small deep grave that had been dug between the roots of their home.

His father, Eldon, had died suddenly. A misplaced foot and a bad fall was all it took, and Wrenn was now struggling with an increased sense of his own mortality as well as the loss of a loved one.

As was tradition in Benklur, his father’s body was lowered into the grave standing up. Members of each family were buried like this, their body feeding the tree that housed them when they were living.

Gnomes take many names over their years, and Wrenn had thus far abstained from the practice. Often their second name will be comical, designed to make people laugh. Wrenn had waited later than most of his peers, and now knew what his second name would be – the name of his father. He became Wrenn Eldon.

Uptree

Throughout his twenties, Wrenn became more and more solitary. Rarely taking part in community events (unheard of from a young gnome) and showing no interest in courting or even taking up carpentry – the occupation of both his parents.

Instead, Wrenn preferred to read, closeting himself away and absorbing tome after tome – the aquisition of knowledge became an addiction for him, particularly history and the study of magic.

In Gnome culture this behaviour is considered abnormal, especially when combined with Wrenn’s lack of enthusiasm for festivals and celebrations. It didn’t take long for other villagers to start referring to Wrenn as “Uptree”. Widely considered an insult, “Uptree” hints at isolationism and lack of community spirit.

In a characteristic act of defiance, Wrenn began to wear the name as a badge of honour, and became Wrenn Eldon Uptree.

Frogbother

It was in his early thirties that Wrenn left his home village and travelled to the city of Engrel in search of work. He’d tired of village life and exhausted the small number of books that he could get his hands on.

It wasn’t long before he interviewed at the city library and was taken on as a researcher. This was a dream come true for Wrenn, now surrounded by more books than he could ever read in his lifetime. It was also in the Engrel City Library that Wrenn began to realise he could be a social creature; now that he was part of a group of like-minded individuals his gnomish sense of humour started to develop. Pranks became a favourite pass-time.

One of the older librarians, Mellik, was a frequent target for pranking among the younger staff. Wrenn had been regaled with stories of previous escapades, and was keen to join in. One such story involved a simple prank – filling Mellik’s desk drawer with frogspawn, it had delighted the young researchers to see him fuming and desperately scooping out handfulls of slime.

Wrenn took this prank further, re-filling the desk and then hiding himself away to watch with his co-consiprators. When Mellik cried out, hands full of frogspawn, Wrenn began phase two: using his gnomish ability to create illusions, he made a large frog appear on a pile of books near the confused librarian. As soon as Mellik rushed over to catch the frog, it disappeared. Wrenn repeated this over and over again, the hidden group of researchers stifling laughter as Mellik sped back and forth across his office.

Continued use of illusory frogs over the years, mostly as an in-joke, earned Wrenn a fond nickname among his peers. He became Wrenn Eldon Uptree Frogbother.

Prickleback

Engrel city library was in financial trouble. Earlier in Wrenn’s fourty first year, a fire had destroyed one of the library’s wings and massively depleted the store of books. There was now less of a need for desk-based researchers and Wrenn’s role took a sideways step into field research.

Wrenn took surprisingly quickly to his new life on the road, and the procurement of rare manuscripts led him down some dubious paths. He found less-than-lawful ways to approach his job, and found that his natural morality could be somewhat suppressed when he focused on the task at hand. Helping his library became a “greater good” in his mind, which he decided gave him license to commit small wrongs along the way.

In his mid-forties, Wrenn fell in with a group of criminals in Fortitude, who had become known for their elaborate heists. He used his ill-gotten gains and new criminal contacts to purchase and steal dozens of rare books and scrolls for his library. His codename during this time was Prickleback, owing to his keeping a pet hedgehog.

After he left the group (on good terms) he decided to adopt his codename, becoming Wrenn Eldon Uptree Frogbother Prickleback.

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Helge's Story

Breakthrough

For the eighth morning running, Helge is awoken by the calls of the seagulls as they break their fast in the shallows of the archipelagos of Igægi.

Wincing in the bright sunlight, he props himself up from his position of rest, face-down on the desk covered in notes and scribbles.

He wipes some drool from his cheek and then, more frantically, from the note at the top of the pile on his desk. Blearily he reads in smudged ink what he must have written to himself just before he fell asleep in the early hours of the morning.

This is it

What must be done

Many months ago now, Helge had made a discovery that was, to his mind, one of the greatest contributions to herbal medicine in the past 2 decades at least! Since then he had spent every waking hour trying to find a way to have his discovery published by a worthy institution.

He’d written letters and repeat letters to herbological, medical and scientific colleges in all of the 9 kingdoms of Odreïn and, much to his surprise and exasperation, heard absolutely nothing in return. Perhaps they thought it was a hoax? It sometimes struck he himself that it was too exciting to be true.

He was beginning to lose hope of anyone taking him seriously, and harden himself to the possibility that if his discovery was ever going to be shared with the greater world (and truly it must be shared!), he was going to have to set off to make a name for himself and find his own monetary means of publishing his work.

On the 199th day (Helge was counting) the ferry once again arrived with not a word of response. Before he could change his mind, Helge paid the ferryman nearly all of his savings to charter a journey to the Inner Rift.

Adventure time

The journey had been horrendous. Helge didn’t think he had it in him weather such a prolonged fit of vomiting. He staggers onto dry land, weeping with relief and exhaustion. The ferryman, concealing a smirk, points him in the direction of the village of Bridgefoot, the nearest chance of food and comfortable rest. His few remaining coins jingling in his pocket, he trudges wearily along the road…

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