A Tangled Skein

Quarion's Log, Supplemental, 24 Olorune 994 YK
An analysis of draconic prophecy, and it's effect on the recently deceased.

My previous log concerning this prophecy only covered the first line and a half. I think now that I understand the rest of that second line. “A mist will cloud and time will hide”...the mist we have previously discussed and should be obvious at this point. “And time will hide” is the phrase I focus on here.

The bodies of the deceased that we discovered after we crossed the borders of our nation appear to be in a state of perpeutal suspension of decay. They look as if they are only moments dead, certainly not the four days it has been since this catastrophe occurred. Could the ash that covers everything have some sort of preservative qualities? I have taken a sample of ash and will endeaver (if we return alive from this mission) to study it further.

Quarion's Log, 24 Olarune 994 YK
The stars give the date as 24 Olarune 994 YK

There is much to report on our last few days. After my investigation of the mysterious mist, we made our way north along the river. The mist still extended as far as we could see into our home country. We shortly came upon another group of refugees; some were injured, others despondent.

We were now in sight of the lightning rail tracks, and being early evening we decided to camp here with the others to regain our strength for the next day. Our rest was soon interrupted by the tell-tale sounds of the lightning rail approaching. We sprang into action, Sledge and myself attempted to conjure flame, fireworks, lights, signs…anything we could to warn the driver of the rail. Aukan and the halfling ran towards the train, hoping to board or somehow slow it before it plunged into the deadly mist. I am sure the driver suspected ambush and thievery, and had the halfling been the only one on the scene, I’m sure that’s what the result would have been. Luckily, I was able to conjure enough warning flares and signs to bring about the train’s halting, but I fear I went too far with trying to conjure a magical whisper and speak to the engineer himself. He seemed rather flustered at the attempt, and even more so at the sight of a huge soldier leaping onto his train. Luckily, the halfling finally proved some worth by using his mellifluous words to convince the driver of the danger and compel him to reverse the direction of travel.

We loaded our charges and the other refugees into an available cargo hold and settled down for the trip to Gatherhold. During the trip, the dwarf finally awoke and was formally introduced as Olohorn Kundarak. He seemed an overly jolly fellow, yet I do not trust his indifference to the atrocities described to him. He may know more than he lets on.

When we arrived in Gatherhold the next evening (21 Olarune), Aukan went to visit the only high-ranking Cyran we could locate, and the rest of us accompanied Olohorn to the Lazy Clawfoot Inn. The halfling presumably followed the changeling Post, but more likely had his own nefarious agenda. He returned only with a passing reference to another noble from Olohorn’s city, something which even our dwarven cleric could have easily ascertained.

Before the evening ended I had a chance to speak with Post about her unusual powers, but she was hesitant to reveal more than the fact that she does possess some psionic abilities. As this is a branch of skill I am unfamiliar with, I shall have to do some research.

On the morning of 22 Olarune, I accompanied our captain to the office of the Cyran Minister Mircin Tandis, whom Aukan had met with the previous day. He had done some research (and contacted various associates) and learned that no messages or lightning rails were coming in or out of the entire nation of Cyre. He tasked us with discovering the cause, and more importantly, ascertaining the current whereabouts and status of our Queen. A grim task indeed, because it means travelling through the mist that I swore never to enter again.

A possible mode of safe transport was found, however. One that should protect us from the deadly mist. An air elemental was bound to the train, giving those within respite from its effects (or so we hoped). A brave crew was hired, and we made preparations to leave the next morning. The minister gave us enough gold to hire on additional soldiers, but Aukan instead chose the halfling. He must be under the spell of this tiny thief; else our captain is taking too literally the adage of “keeping your enemies close”. Either way, I feel that this decision may cost us dearly, and not just in the gold that this halfling craves so much.

We invited Olohorn and Post, but they declined, so we said our farewells.

Yesterday (23 Oloarune), we left before dawn and soon entered the nation of Cyre. While the effects of the mist were much subdued from my earlier investigation of it, a deep sadness still settled on us all. One of the crew tried to exit the train, but Aukan restrained him. Eventually, we were through the thickest “wall” of mist, and were witness to a scene of total desolation on the rest of the land. A blanket of ash covered all we could survey, and some trick of time seemed to affect the dead that we could see. As we approached the capitol, the train was derailed by a section of missing track, and we were hurled to the ground, coming to rest on our side. We would not be leaving by means of lightning rail, I fear.

We admonished the crew to remain, then left the train. As we headed to the capitol, we noticed that some of the buildings were not in their correct locations. Also, I was able to investigate the trick of time I mentioned earlier…the bodies we found looked unnaturally preserved, as if they had only just died moments ago, even though they had been dead for 4 days.

We continued towards the palace, but were eventually attacked by a small band of undead soldiers from a different nation. A clue to this mystery, perhaps? It was a lengthy battle, but we overcame them with no losses of our own. At this point, it was nearing the evening, and we found our way at last in the palace. To our dismay, we found no trace of the Queen.

We will make our camp here for the evening, and I will keep watch until morning as I ponder the implications of all that I have learned today.

The Autobiography of Garret "Fingers
Chapter Two: In Which Your Humble Narrator Stops a Train and Espies the Remains of a Nation.

Part the first, or a sad meeting

When I last left you, gentle reader, we had just acquired two new companions. Inertia the Changeling and an insensate Dwarf Lordling. We traveled with all speed northwards, keeping an eye on the river and the mist beyond. The Cyran soldiers I was traveling with, Giganty the behemothic sergeant, Q-elf the mage, and Whiskers the dwarf cleric, were keeping an eye out for a break in the mist in order to find their way back to their unit, corp, or whatever you call a piece of an army. Personally, I abhor any fracas that does not involve a direct monetary benefit to myself. I do not see this as being anti-military…merely having a sense of self worth and a sense of proportion to my place in the scheme of things. Certainly, gentle reader, if you wish to risk life and limb merely for love of country, I wholeheartedly support your choice. Let’s just say that I consider myself a sovereign nation unto myself, of which I am king, general, and magister (as well as tax-collector, heh).

We eventually came upon some poor souls who had outrun the mist as it had overtaken Cyre. A half-elf and several of my kinsmen. The half-elf had lost his wife and was inconsolable. At one point, he stood up and said:

“Death be not proud, though some have called thee Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not soe, For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow, Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill mee. From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee, Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow, And soonest our best men with thee doe goe, Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie. Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men, And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell, And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well, And better then thy stroake; why swell’st thou then? One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally, And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.”

He then ran weeping into the mist, leaving our stunned forms behind.

Part the second, or I stop a train.

When I am passionate about a subject, I can be most persuasive. I can convince the hottest fire elemental that a cool drink would hit the spot right now! I can convince the most pious cleric to switch to a diametrically opposed deity. I am very convincing; and I was about to use my powers of persuasion to good effect indeed!

We stumbled upon some lightning rail train tracks and, no sooner than we had arrived, we ascertained a train coming down the tracks towards the mist. I knew immediately that this train was doomed and leapt into action. I turned towards Giganty, who was staring at the train dully.

“To action, sir!” I exclaimed.

“I am tired…no.” he replied.

“Sir, the lives of all aboard that train are in your substantial hands! Be the hero you were born to be!” I admonished.

“What have they ever done for me?” he asked.

“Sir, I curse you for a coward; a dastard of the most craven variety!”

“Oh, very well,” he acquiesced, shamed.

He ran at the train, a good distance away at first. His legs pumped with power, left and right, stomping faster, faster towards the train! Onwards, ever onwards he charged, gaining speed by the second, until he collided with the train. What happens when an irresistible force hits and immovable object? A most cacophonous roar of metal and thunder ensued, shattering the eerie calm of the mist as the train halted.

I climbed aboard the engine and confronted the engineer. I implored him that his life, the lives of his passengers, and his career as a driver of one of the finest modes of transportation ever to be conceived were in mortal jeopardy. So convincing was I that, with nary a glance, he set the train in motion to proceed backwards to Gatherhold, a municipality that I am fortunate enough to call my home.

Upon the way, the unconscious dwarf awakened and we made his acquaintance. Modesty and discretion prevent me from revealing the identity of this fine patrician fellow. However, for brevity’s sake, I shall refer to him as Lord O.

Part the third, or Home again, Home again.

On the rail ride home, we spoke with Inertia and Lord O. We learned that they were scholars on a quest to find some sort of scholarly thing or some such item. I didn’t get the details. Lord O turned out to be a most gracious nobleman, generous with his company as well as his coin.

When we returned to Gatherhold, I discreetly followed Inertia to the messaging office and saw that she sent a message to another nobleman. Very curious indeed!

I asked Lord O about this nobleman and he didn’t know much about him. He paid us handsomely for his rescue, though, which was well appreciated.

Meanwhile, Giganty and Q-elf consulted with their government in exile, as it were. They determined the best course of action was to proceed by specially protected rail into Cyre.

Having no business there myself, I bade them good speed. However, they opened the coffers of Cyre to me for my assistance in determining the fate of their queen. I cannot abide the suffering of nobility, especially that of the fairer sex, so I was, against my better judgment, fain to go.

Part the fourth, or Into the Maelstrom.

The rail was manned by a doughty crew indeed! All were a credit to their profession. As we thundered forth into the mist, I took a guarding post atop the engine itself. Wave after wave of unholy foulness assaulted me as we progressed toward the center of that foul blight. My dagger was black with the unholy ichor that those undead beings call blood.

I was utterly spent by the time we found our way to the capital. Q-elf pointed out the palace at the heart of the city and a newfound vigor came upon me as I inured myself to the profane atmosphere that had taken over the area.

With myself at the vanguard, we plowed through wave after wave of unholy foulness. I must admit with no modesty that I saved my companions lives a hundred times over with no expectation of remuneration or gramercy.

We wept for joy in relief when we finally reached the sanctuary of the palace. Alas, the joy quickly turned to concern when we noted that the queen was not there. We were gratified that she was not dead. However, her whereabouts were completely unknown. Gentle reader, your humble narrator was truly in a tight spot!

Thus ends Chapter Two.

I remain Garret “Fingers” Phineous, your humble narrator.

Post's Perspective 01
following the battle at the tower, and the arrival of the mist

The Eladrin returned from the mist. I was surprised to see him. There was something dismal and draining about that fog; something otherworldly and I was certain that it was deadly. His face was pale and colorless. I watched him consult with his fellow soldiers and the despair spread through them as he spoke. Even without hearing his words, I was certain. They were all dead. An entire battalion of Cyran soldiers along with whatever Karrnathi force was there as well.

We were too close to the danger; it made me impatient. Whatever fell force compelled that mist might renew it at any moment. A distance of half a mile was not far enough for my liking. We needed to leave.

I had insisted that Olohorn would pay them well for an escort, though I did not expect the Cyrans to abandon their post. In that way perhaps I benefited from the murderous fog. The goliath approached me, throwing a sideways glance at the halfling. I was kneeling next to Olohorn.

“There is ill magic at play; I fear that all our comrades have perished. We intend to move north, to the Metrol bridge. Our hope is that some of our countrymen will have escaped this deathcloud and that we will receive word there. You may accompany us, and we offer you protection on the way. However, we do not intend to journey to Gatherhold.”

This was a small comfort, as Gatherhold was several days off, and it was still unclear to me if Olohorn’s condition would linger, damned fool that he was. The goliath returned to his men and the halfling came over to me. He suggested that he might be able to ease Olohorn’s travels for a few coppers more. I did not trust him, but I agreed to the fee if he could indeed deliver. The goliath frowned as he saw us conversing. The halfling trotted off and returned a few minutes later with a pony; somewhat ragged and missing a bit of his left ear, but adequate for a stupefied dwarf.

At this the Halfling, he name was Garret, explained that he was headed to Gatherhold himself and he would gladly offer his protective services for the price I had mentioned earlier. Though my trust with this rogue was limited, we had virtually nothing to steal, so I agreed.

We made our way northward, deciding to keep a healthy distance from the river and the mist. Only a couple of hours of daylight remained. As the sunlight faded, the despair of the Cyrans grew. We spoke little. There was a dim realization settling upon all of us, an understanding that this mist was deep and far reaching. I began to suspect that Metrol itself was gone. Somehow the lands to the west just felt empty and lifeless.

Coming over a small hill, we spied the lightning rail tracks leading to the bridge. At the urging of Aukan, the goliath sergeant, we followed the tracks toward the bridge. The mist continued as before, a gray wall, seemingly bound by the river.

Warily, we drew near the bridge and happened upon the sounds of a man sobbing bitterly. I shifted to a human form. It occurred to me that survivors of this curse may not be too trusting and I was suddenly thankful to be in the company of Cyran soldiers.

A lone half-elf was curled under a withered oak, clutching his knees and crying. Sledge approached him and knelt beside him.

“Friend, what has happened?”

He looked up, almost startled. “I… I couldn’t find her, I…”, and then he faded back into sobs. “Friend, are you from Cyre? Have you fled this mist.” The dwarf’s voice was gruff, but there was compassion in it.

“He has been like this since we stopped.” We turned and found a sober-faced halfing behind us. “I believe he lost his wife.” His eyes fell to the ground. “There are a few of us camped just behind the hill. We were not able to continue on with the rest. Has the Queen sent you? Oh, by Boldrei’s Spear I pray that she has sent you.”

“I am afraid the she has not.” Aukan said. “We were east of the river when the mist came.”

The halfling looked down again. He was silent, but tears were darkening the soil.

“What can you tell us? Where have you come from?” Aukan asked.

The halfling raised his head, brokenness lined his face. “We were but a few hours outside of Metrol, when a number of riders came galloping frantically behind us. For an instant, I feared brigands, even though we were not so far from the capital.” His speech was slow and deliberate. “The bulk of the riders tore past us but one straggler slowed to shout something at us before going on. I couldn’t understand him, but his eyes were wide with fear.”

“I turned towards Metrol and I saw this … this wall of mist, it must have been miles wide. We turned and fled, spurring our ponies. I feared a massive invasion from Karrnath and some dark magic. Whenever I looked back, I feared pursuit, it seemed larger and closer. I knew that something was chasing us, eager to devour us.” He paused, his eyes empty and blank.

“Continue.” Aukan said.

“We…, well, when we made it to the bridge, Janasar’s pony faltered, perhaps it threw a shoe. It happened so fast. Janasar was on the ground. He was clutching his ankle. I dismounted and ran to him, the mist was a boiling storm and it must have been less than half a mile off. Mala waited at the head of the bridge. I lifted Janasar onto the back of my pony.”

“There were others, maybe a dozen or so; all headed for the bridge. We made it across and I turned again to see. Then a loud curse and a large horse blundered into us. Janasar cried out, I was on the ground, and my pony was bolting. I knew we were done. The mist was already at the foot of the bridge. I hauled Janasar off the road and then I collapsed. Mala had not seen us fall.”

He paused again, and Aukan nodded.

“And then… well, it just stopped. I don’t know why. It stopped. It didn’t cross the river, praise the Host. I collapsed and I think slept a bit after that, but I woke to our friend here, crying, calling out for Eladdra. I could get no sense out of him though. Janasar is still not able to walk, so I made camp and trusted for Boldrei’s spear to preserve us.”

“And you have seen no sign of the Queen’s armies?” asked Quarion.

“No, I had hoped you were her relief.”

The sun was beginning to sink into the west. Aukan ordered his men to prepare a camp for the night. The halflings were invited to join. Auakn instructed Sledge move the half-elf, but his attempt roused the man and he turned to run back towards the bridge.

Just after sunset, we heard a low rumbling sound growing from the east. Specks of azure were sparking in the distance. We watched in silence for a moment, uncomprehending. Then the sound of a shrill whistle punctuated the rumble.

“It is the lightning rail,” I said, “headed to Metrol… and into the mist.”

Quarion’s Log, Supplemental, 20 Olarune 994 YK
An analysis of draconic prophecy, and it's effects on travelling company size.

As mentioned in my previous log, I managed to translate the dragonmark notated above. It is obviously some bit of draconic prophecy, but it’s meaning is (as is often the case with these things) currently obfuscated.

Here are my current theories of the first half of the prophecy:

Starting with the second line: “A mist will cloud and time will hide.” We have probably just encountered the mist in question. I’m assuming that “time will hide” is referencing the fact that the mist remains. For how long, we do not yet know – but if this prophecy is correct, it may subsist for an extended period.

“Three will seek, five will find.” Three of us began this adventure. Our party currently numbers six. That could mean one of several possibilities:

1. Post and Olohorn will not depart from our company at the lightning rail, and instead join our ranks. That is my preference. Though I do not know much of the dwarf, the girl Post intrigues me with her mastery of the mind. For this party to remain at five, we will have to leave the halfling thief along the way. This is also my preference.

2. Post and Olohorn will depart from our company at the lightning rail. The halfling will remain in our company, and we will add a fifth member at some point. How we will deal with this miniature menace in the meantime, I do not yet know.

3. Post, Olohorn, and the thief will all depart from our company. We will then add two more to our ranks in the future.

My analysis continues. I will write more as I discover more facts.

Quarion's Log, 20 Olarune 994 YK
The stars give the date as 20 Olarune 994 YK

Our mission to investigate an abandoned tower on the outskirts of the battlefield this morning proved quite…eventful.

We arrived as silently as possible, though the clanking of Aukan and Sledge’s armor was difficult to silence. At first, I found folly in sending brutish warriors on a scouting mission, but they soon proved their worth. As our away team descended on the entrance to the tower, I noticed some strange tracks on the ground next to a pile of rubble. No sooner had I determined them to be of kruthik origin, did the bugs appear. We dispatched them quite easily, but a curious thing happened. A previously-hidden halfling jumped out and aided us in mid-battle! A brief introduction was all that I needed to determine that he was a thief. His mouth continued to spew forth platitudes and flattering words, but was thankfully silenced by the arrival of more kruthiks. I roasted them quickly, but they were followed by some very odd creatures. Dolgrums, they are called, though this was my first encounter with one. However, it is not acceptable to refer a dolgrum as “one” since they possess two sets of arms, two mouths, and apparently two brains. This allowed them to act twice as often as my comrades and I. But, that did not allow them to best us, by any means.

During the battle that followed, my associates fought bravely. Even the thief attempted to help, though his wayward dagger did as much damage to Aukan’s foot as it did to the enemy. Sledge used his unique ability to summon a creature to attack for him, which proved to be quite beneficial.

Once inside the tower, I magically lit the interior to discover a well-dressed dwarf bound and unconscious on a dragonmark! A female who identified herself as Post was also bound nearby, but awake. After we released them (and prevented the thief from picking their pockets), I studied the dragonmark. Its meaning I will transcribe on another page, as I think it deserves more careful study.

Post begged us to escort her and her employer (a member of House Kundarak) to the nearest lightning rail station. Our sergeant agreed (a little too hastily, by my reckoning), and we started to leave the tower.

Once outside we were met with a small army of undead and their commanders. A witch and her lieutenants directed a force of shambling zombies towards us, and we immediately took action. Post stayed behind to guard her employer, and only once used some brand of magic I had not yet seen to cause a zombie’s head to explode! I shall seek out her unique knowledge as soon as I am able.

During the conflict that followed, a most disturbing event transpired. Off to the West, a gathering darkness, an omen of ill, began to grow from the area of our army’s encampment. It seems that a full-scale battle was finally taking place there, and the darkness grew above it. A chill wind began to blow, and horrid sounds emanated from the region. I fear some evil magic was loosed there.

Once again, my compatriots and I fought in earnest, and our battle with the undead was soon won. The zombies were dispatched without trouble, and their commanders soon followed. Many of us were wounded, some severely, but all survived.

I searched the bodies and discovered a Diamond Wand, un-soiled by the witch’s necromantic powers. She must have recently “acquired” it as spoils of battle. I say recently, because she did not seem attuned to it, nor was the wand sick with her evil. Curious. I shall study this wand closely, and I hope to make use of it myself. Perhaps I can redeem it of any evil it has so far enabled.

The cleric also discovered a long sword, but I do not know if his training is sufficient to wield it.

Once again our attentions turned to the West. It seems a grey mist had settled over the land, and we could see no living thing within. The mist appeared to stop at the river we had crossed that morning, but past that, it went as far as even my Eladrin eyes could see. I fear that doom is upon us.

I advised my company to rest within the tower to regain some of their strength, as they were bloodied and exhausted from battle. I still possessed the ability to keep watch, and would awaken them at the first sign of trouble. They would hear no wisdom, however, and spurred on by promises of reward, decided to make towards the lightning rail.

I only hope that in the future, they will heed my wise counsel. It is extremely short-sighted to travel through a desperate and dangerous land while un-rested and weary. Evil gives no quarter to the foolish.

Aukon’s mind was soon troubled by the fate of our battalion, however. He sent me to discover what I could about the mist, and the fates of the armies within. It was a short distance, but when I arrived, I felt an un-natural hopelessness descend upon me. As I got closer to the mist, I felt disoriented, and I could see that nothing remained alive within its grasp.

My senses indicated that it was no longer poisonous, so I crossed the river. The hopelessness and disorientation grew overwhelming, and only my quick reaction and insight allowed me to return unharmed. I will not enter it again willingly.

I returned and relayed my findings to our group. Saddened and dismayed, we made our preparations to depart. We do not know how far into Cyre the mist extends, but none of us hold out much hope for anyone who encounters it. Our only task before us is to see the House Kunderak folk to their destination. What we will do then is unknown. I hope that we will soon try and find another entrance back into Cyre so that we may investigate this mist.

Quarion's Log, 19 Olarune 994 YK
The stars give the date as 19 Olarune 994 YK

The nights are cool but comfortable on the borders of Cyre. Though we are on the eve of battle, I still find myself exhilarated simply from seeing new lands. As my adoptive parents never left their home city, I was not able to travel much until I joined the military. “See exotic realms, kill exotic monsters”...that saying has been quite true thus far, even though this is only the first time I have seen lands outside of Cyre.

We await battle in the morning. Against a force of undead, no doubt. Our enemy is foul, and robs the dead of their eternal peace by raising them for their army. It gives me great satisfaction to grant them rest once again.

My seargeant, a Goliath named Aukan, has asked me and the dwarf they call Sledgehammer to accompany him on a side mission in the morn. Aukan is a good leader, and I find a kinship in him due to his also being forcibly removed form his homeland. The dwarf has also shown himself to be competant in his duties as a cleric. Neither of them possesses the grace and intelligence that I do, but they are able warriors nonetheless. I have no doubts that we will overcome the foul army that lies in wait before us.

Unexpected Companions
Aukan's Travels

The armies of Cyre have been camped along the Cyre River and we’ve been preparing for battle against those who would use undead against our nation. This morning, I was instructed to take two men and scout out activity we’d seen east of our camp. An army of 200 enemy was spotted on the move, but some other unknown activity was seen around a ruined tower. I chose two of my most trusted comrades, a wizard called Quarion (whom, in the custom of my clan, I call FireMaker) and a cleric known as Sledge (whom we call SledgeHammer). We got underway to learn more of this tower and the movements of our enemy.

We arrived at the tower and found it relatively quiet on the outside. We spread out and began to circle to the south side of the tower looking for any sign of movement. As we approached a large heap of rubble, FireMaker discovered Kruthik tracks. The enemy had been here! We immediately took up a defensive posture, preparing for attack at any moment. I began searching the rubble for unwelcome creatures and we heard the all-to-familiar clicks. Several Kruthiks sprang from underneath the rubble and the fight was underway. The battle was like most when dealing with Kruthiks. They aren’t much of a foe and usually not worth the effort. I tried to crush a few like the bugs they are, but didn’t have much time (and they’re fast). FireMaker and SledgeHammer blew most of them away like flys on their sleeves. I had one cornered, ready to be squished when out jumped a halfling who, for his size managed to show great skill in battle. He sliced through the last of the Kruthiks and I thought well of him. It amused me greatly to see such a small creature fight so well.

He introduced himself as Garrett and then went on for a while about himself and how lucky we were that he was there. My opinion of him shrank with every word he uttered. As he spoke several thoughts entered my mind like “I wonder how far I could throw him?” and “If SledgeHammer yells ‘pull’ I could throw him up and FireMaker could use him as target practice.” Thankfully, more enemies soon showed up and distracted him from…himself.

We noticed movement in the doorway of the tower and all of us began moving in. More Kruthiks. Again, they were no match and soon all were destroyed in one blow. We then heard faint screaming from inside. A woman’s scream. We started to enter the doorway and were attacked by the strangest of creatures. Not even in the mountains have I seen such hideous things. They had two mouths (which I’m sure Garrett was jealous of) and their heads were almost indistinguishable from their bodies. I charged in to block them inside the door, but couldn’t make it in time. As I stood beside the door one of them came out and I had a swing at him, but I missed. Another one soon joined him and they proved to be much more of a task than the bugs. Our team…and the rogue…worked well together, but many of us were wounded and without the help of our cleric, might have seen the end that day. After enduring the clumsiness of the rogue who stabbed me in the foot, we were finally able to destroy the beasts (and I made quite a mess of one them, splitting him in half) and moved into the tower. FireMaker lit the room with his magic and we could see a dwarf unconscious on a strange platform with mysterious markings. A woman changeling was held in chains against the far wall. She seemed quite worried about the safety of the dwarf. While we worked to free the prisoners, our wizard friend was able to make out the writings on the platform to be what sounded like a prophecy. Something about 3 and 5 and some mist. I leave it to him as I have no gift for understanding such things.

While he was studying the symbols, Garrett tried to reach the dwarf, but I couldn’t tell if he wanted to lift him or his money. The rogue was visibly shaken by the effect of some magic around the platform, but continued his reaching. I decided to intervene and grabbed the dwarf and pulled him off the platform, safe and away from the ever searching hands of the rogue. Garrett actually became increasingly eager to get close to the dwarf. He seems to think my friends and I are unaware of his intentions. His mouth was going twice as fast now and much of my goodwill towards him in battle quickly waned with his incessant scheming. After freeing the dwarf, I broke the chains holding the woman. She quickly ran to protect the dwarf, not trusting our intentions. We were able to set her at ease, despite the rudeness and greed of the rogue who (mistakenly) felt he was important enough to gain leverage by refusing to assist without immediate payment. Ignoring his whining, I offered to carry the dwarf and we all agreed to escort them to the nearest railway. She offered to pay us well, which kept the rogue tied to us for now.

As we left the tower, we were again attacked, but this time by undead soldiers lead by a witch and two sergeants. I couldn’t wait to jump into this fight, but was still burdened by the dwarf. SledgeHammer and FireMaker showed their strength and attacked quickly. I placed the dwarf safely on the ground and engaged in the fight. The woman changeling was powerful and before I left her side, I saw her simply look at an undead soldier and he exploded. This female would do well in the mountains! She stepped back to guard the dwarf while we all fought. FireMaker lived up to his name and torched many foes with his brand of magic. SledgeHammer smashed a few to powder and I rather enjoyed throwing my weight around. Garrett ran around behind the enemy and attacked from the rear, again proving adept in combat. With his attitude I assume he’s had to learn to defend himself many times. Regardless, we dealt with this enemy and I returned to check on the dwarf, still lying unconscious. The others began taking arms from the dead and Garrett ran up to the woman complaining and insulting her for not getting more involved in the battle. His mouth may prove a real liability to us in the future. If it continues to put us at risk I may have to help him control it.

At that moment we noticed a mist of sorts rolling over the land. The armies fighting to the north were silenced and an evil feeling was in the air. The mist rolled over the hilltops across the river, but stopped on its borders. What is this? With the woman’s strong encouragement and promise to increase our rewards, we decided to move away from the area as quickly as possible. But what of our fellow soldiers? What of our nation? What is this mist? I must find my commanders and report what has happened. We couldn’t move on without giving them aid or at least reporting what we’ve discovered. The woman was very uneasy and was not happy with my decision to investigate…but, if she wants our protection, she’ll wait another hour or two. I decided to send FireMaker to scout out the mist and learn what has come of our battalion. I held little hope of what he might find…and his report was devastating. All dead; friend, foe and even land. Nothing seemed to survive. I give my word that we will find out what has happened here and who is responsible. We will make them pay for this atrocity.

The Autobiography of Garret "Fingers" Phineous
Chapter One: In which your humble narrator falls in with a rough crowd.


Part the first, or how your humble narrator came to be here.

Stealing from the foolish is an important profession. How else will the foolish be convicted of their folly and realize the value of financial wisdom? I teach lessons to the foolish. And, sometimes, when the foolish do not appreciate the value of the wisdom I impart, I, sadly, must then teach them the folly of assaulting a halfling who knows how to use a dagger.

How can a ne’er-do-well such as yourself express himself with such efflusive eloquence, you ask? Well, a quick tongue helps a small-stature’d person such as myself circumvent trouble. Also, my mentor, Tooth, inculcated a love of flowery language in me since my youth. He’d say “Garret, my boy, nothing is worth saying unless it is said CORRECTLY. Now, hand me that rod over there so that I might beat you with it.” Ah, the times we had in Tooth’s gang. I almost regret knocking him unconscious and stealing his purse to come to this land.

But I digress. I heard from a sometimes client of mine that vast riches await an intrepid soul with the will and the means to pluck them from their resting places. The place that these soon-to-be-liberated treasures resided was an old, decrepit tower. Imagine that! Hiding vast wealth in such a place!

Part the second, or the arrival of your humble narrator and company

When I arrived at the tower, I surveyed two armies fighting across a river. After lamenting the foolishness that misplaced nationalism stirs up, I approached the tower prudently. I then ascertained three individuals stomping and crashing their way towards the tower, like bovines in a crockery emporium. Their oafish meandering stirred up a nest of Kruthiks, which I then dispatched single-handedly, with minimal help from them.

Why such mercy, you ask? I felt that, if yon tower possessed more such inhabitants, then surely a more populous approach would be prudent. I took the opportunity to drink in my new-found companions.

The leader, who they referred to as “Sergeant” was a large, hulking fellow, much larger than the humans that populate this area of the world. Surely the army that placed such an individual in charge of men must value puissance in their leaders more than the capacity for abstract thought. He seemed like a severe, but useful fellow to have around. His actual name escapes me at the time of this writing, but I’m sure I’ll recall it later. For now, I’ll refer to him as Giganty McHuge.

I must confess that your humble narrator was a little trepidatious about the second fellow. He was able to summon burning flame at will, a master of the arcane arts. He was also one of those otherworldly elven types. Not the wood elf type…the other kind that comes from beyond. Tooth always said that such elves kidnap children and take them to the land of eternal summer’s twilight, where they make such children eternal servants for their castles of silver and light. It sounded like a sweet life to me, so I went out and harassed the first such gentleman I found to take me as his slave. He ended up blackening my eye. Tooth blackened the other one for trying to escape the guild before my training was complete, and for the sake of aesthetic symmetry. Anyway, the elf seemed a nice enough fellow though, and of good humor, which is always an asset in a traveling companion. He seemed almost as intelligent as I. I think his name was Quillon, or Quinny, or something with a “Q”. For now, I’ll call him Q-Elf.

The third was one of those religious types. I remember them from my youth. I would beg for alms at the gate and they would come and chase me away and then proceed to steal my begging spot for their “fund raising”! I think my first attempt at liberating coin was from a young priest begging for funds for some religious reason or another in the market square. He caught my hand in his purse and then cuffed me pretty handily, enough to knock out one of my back teeth. Tooth knocked out the other corresponding one for being caught, and also for the sake of aesthetic symmetry. At any rate, this third fellow happened to be a dwarf. I love dwarves because I can look them in the eye when I’m obtaining their coin, and they carry so very much of it. He seemed kindly but not too prosperous, and not at all loquacious. He had the eyes of one who endeavors to see within all things. I don’t recall his moniker, though, I think it had something to do with cheese. I’ll refer to him as Whiskers for now.

I introduced myself to them and they thanked me for my assistance and I suggested we form an alliance dedicated to liberating said tower of its valuables.

Part the third, or your humble narrator storms a tower!

Ah, what is this flower of halfling vitality! What a fine figure your humble narrator made as he harvested his way through a score of two-headed ogres pouring out of the tower! Truly, it is a shame that your humble narrator is not a weaver of epic poetry for it is only such an individual who would be able to approach the sublimely efflugent spectacle of the ensuing fray. Oh, it is to your detriment, gentle reader!

As I basked in the awe of my companions and benefited from the healing arts of Whiskers, I spied a dwarf lying in a circle of eldritch light. My keen intellect immediately established that this was one of those dragon mark things that people are always going on about. He was obviously distressed, so your humble narrator, with no regard for his own life and limb proceeded forward intrepidly to release the poor fellow from his bondage. After releasing him from his bonds, Whiskers, his fellow kinsman, saw to his injuries.

Q-elf, also being blessed with intelligence, like your humble narrator, studied the dragon mark and learned some important facts about it. There was some kind of riddle involved or some such thing, the actual text escapes me but it seemed to be important or at least portentous in some way. I’m afraid such details are not your humble narrator’s strong suit. I am, as always, a man of action and wit, and have not the inclination or obsessive observational capacity that the more bookish arts require.

By now, Giganty McHuge seemed to suspect your humble narrator of nefarious intent! I merely wished to help the obviously traumatized dwarf to stand and take a few steps to perhaps shake off the spell that ensorcelled him. Now, I ask you, gentle reader, would you rather be propped up by a fellow near your height or carried like a sack of delicious, delicious PO-TAY-TOES over the shoulder of some addle-minded lummox? Besides, wouldn’t a prudent check through his person confirm his identity? I humbly leave it to you to decide.

At any rate, we also liberated a changeling type of the gentler sex whose name is on the tip of my tongue. I will refer to her as Inertia Torpor for the present. Ms. Torpor was quite concerned for the welfare of the unconscious rich dwarf and promised us each a kingly sum for his safe return! Normally, your humble narrator would eschew the obtaining of coin for a good deed of course. However, being that I was new and unestablished in the area and also being that the unconscious dwarf could obviously afford such a sum, I must confess I reluctantly acquiesced.

Part the fourth, or your humble narrator battles the cold minions of death.

Upon leaving the tower (empty handed, I might add) we were confronted by a vast army of the undead. Leading this army of unclean souls, was a battalion of necromancers led by some kind of undead witch.

It would be vainglorious to list here the vast carnage wrought by your humble narrator unleashing a vast swath of justice upon the purveyors of the blackest of arts and their minions. Suffice it to say, they were handily defeated. I must, of course, acknowledge the fine support I had from Whiskers, Q-elf, and Giganty. Inertia Torpor was no help at all, though, being of the weaker sex.

Upon slaying the vile witch commanding the army, she turned to me with her cold eyes and uttered:

“From Hell’s heart, I stab at thee… For hate’s sake, I spit my last breath at thee…”

I immediately replied:

“From Hell thou hast come! Back to Hell thou must go! This world has no place for your evil whilst I am here, foul witch! Die!”

And with that, gentle reader, she was no more. Normally, I would search a vanquished foe in order to catalogue their ill-gotten gains for return to their proper owners or, failing that, the constabulary. However, I could not bring myself to rifle through the carcass of such a foul creature. It was a job for less-discerning folk. Giganty McHuge was only too willing to perform the deed.

Part the fifth, in which a foul mist obfuscates the battle.

It was then, gentle reader, that I noticed a foul mist engulfing the two armies at war. For a brief moment, I considered that it could be the result of a thousand Giganty McHuges, victims of an uninformed diet of meat and more meat, collectively relieving the air pressure in their colons. The screams from within the mist seemed to back this theory up. I suggested we investigate the matter thoroughly. However, Inertia Torpor, being of the gentler sex, begged us to deliver her and the dwarf to safety, a sum of vast wealth would be ours if such action was taken immediately. Alas, my scientific curiosity was no match for my need for coin at this point in time and commerce won out, as it were.

Thus ends Chapter One.

I remain Garret “Fingers” Phineous, your humble narrator.

Before The Day of Mourning
The First Thread

20 Olarune 994 YK


As two armies begin to engage to the west, you approach a ruined old tower, overlooking the banks of the Cyre River.


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