Shadow Hunters

Enter the Matrix (?)
because Sucaeva is always prepared

Sucaeva said I shood stop pacing and write. He had sum paper on him for sum reeson and made me sit down. He seems more relaxed tho since I’ve been staring at this for an hour.

Anyway, we found Miria!! I’m reely glad I made him agree to check the karavan. She didn’t look happy to see me at first and we got in a fight and she slapped me so I slapped her back. She had no reeson to be angry anyway! It’s not like I new she made sum deal with that vampire.

Altho I told her it was a dream, I’m scared Sucaeva was right and it reely happened. Why else wood I dream he had Raven’s Tooth? Miria got mad but I got outta talking about it with her for now.

But I’m still confused where she was going? She said she was going to Lenth Lencia but Shira said they were going the wrong way. And then we all decided to go and set up camp sumwhere for sum reeson, but I don’t care because Miria went adventuring with us again! She made me ride on the horse with her, tho. I’ve never ridden a horse. It was nice, tho, sitting and talking with her. We had to leave the horses tho when we finally got to the place, and Miria had a map of a cave she picked up from sum ded guy. The cave was full of kristals. Saja Saget Sajeter came with us and so did his father. I reely don’t know what to think of him, but I said sumthing bad and didn’t apologise. I shood reely do that.

Ok, I’m back. I forgot he’s Tex now.

Anyway, we got in a fight in the cave, and Sajeter and Miria kept fighting even tho I said the cave was gonna fall. And it did, and we fell into a dark, dark place. I couldn’t see anything and I was reely scared I died again.

But I woke up in the Astral Sea or that’s what Sucaeva said it was. We were all blobs of light. Miria was the first to change back but she was a Halfling and started crying and complaning about being comon. I reely wanted to punch her. Sucaeva came back next and he was an Eladrin. Miria kept complaning and finally I hugged her even if I wanted to punch her, and I got a body again. It felt weird and when I looked I was an elf..and male.

That was unplesent. We were all naked too which didn’t bother me but I think it upset Shira. She ran and hid in a bush. Then Sajeter came back only he was a male Halfling with Tex’s face. And he started talking like Tex too. I was happy to see him but I reely wish Tex wood let us know it was her whenever she shows up.

Shira didn’t want a body. She stayed in the bushes and cried about not wanting to be a man. Sucaeva finally touched her and she became a Shifter! Well, a Longtooth, anyway. And Miria kept crying about being comon, and I was a man, and none of us were reely happy ecept maybe Sucaeva. The man who woke us said we’d get used to it and kept saying things about past lifes, but we never got used to it. Insted we tried to find sum guy to send us back, and on the way we found the High Ansestor.

He was still a dwarf but he was drunk and smelly. Shira talked with him and he told us how the world was a lie but I was reely confused. I knew being a man was a lie but I couldn’t tell what he was talking about. And Miria wasn’t talking to me, I think because I was taller than her.

Sum guys took the High Ansestor away and we kept trying to find that other guy but we found Gobo! He was an ogre and he told us how to get power from our past lifes. So the next day we went with him and sum teeflings to attack sum place and get our powers.

Inside we got separated and we ran into an old enemy of Sucaeva and Miria. He trapped us in a room with a mashin and while Sucaeva tried to get power Miria and I fought the Elf guard. We were terrible tho and Miria almost died and I couldn’t hit anything. Eventualy Sucaeva became a giant snake and cut the Elf in half. Shira healed Miria and then we got our powers, too. Only Tex and Miria got hurt because the mashin exploded so Sucaeva and Shira healed them and I carried Miria. Alarms were going off and Gobo fell, but we managed to escape to the sewers and back to Gobo’s house.

There were Elf guards there too and they killed Gobo’s wife. I set Miria down and scouted ahead and sum guards were trying to kill another Halfling. We saved her and Miria and Tex woke up. Sucaeva knew the Halfling but I didn’t hear anything they talked about because Miria kissed me for a reely long time. I think I understand why Sucaeva and Shira run off so much now. But will it be the same now I’m a girl again?

I heard enough to know the Halfling said the strange world was a lie and it was dying. So we discussed how to stop it and escape but Miria said something reely strange that made me happy but kinda embarrassed, and I’m not sure how to ask her about it now. But finally decided to fight and we had to go back to the place we ran from so we could kill someone called the Arkitect. We had to fight thru a lot of guards and even ran into Volgar. We cut thru him and finally met the Arkitect.

He was a black dragon sitting on a throne in a cave. Thinking back it was weird that he was in a cave when we were in a building but too late now. With our new abilities from the mashin we charged him at all once. He grew ginormus and nearly filled the entire cave. I’ll never say it out loud but seeing him like that I was reely scared. A small green dragon killed us not long ago, and we’d finally all gotten together again, even Tex was there. But it was fight and go home or just die so we rushed him. Sucaeva Tex and I got caught in a blast of acid, and every move hurt, but we were relentless. Shira even set him on fire for us, and I tried to cut him deep enough that it wouldn’t heal but I wasn’t able to peerce his skin.

Sucaeva was bloodied and we were all battered but we finally managed to fell him. But as he died he told Sucaeva we were fools and this was the real world. We all knew he was lying but now I’m not so sure.

We left his cave and found the Halfling almost dead with scores of guards lying around her. She told us the only way back was to find a kristal and stab ourselves in the heart with it at the same time. She passed and we went to find the cave. On the way Tex kissed me. I reely don’t know what to think about her. She kept saying we were sisters but now she’s a man again and I have no idea. We can’t be sisters if she’s a man.

But we’re all ourselves again otherwise! Tex is a drow male but I’m a Shifter woman again! As soon as we entered the cave with the kristal we got our real bodies back. But we didn’t have much time to think about anything reely because the cave started to shake like before. I looked at Sucaeva and he nodded, and we all raised pieces of the kristal. I saw Sucaeva and Shira kiss and say farewells to each other earlier as went into the cave, so at the last minute I told Miria I loved her and kissed her. Then the walls started shaking and groaning and Sucaeva counted to three and then everything went dark.

We woke up here with sum humans and teeflings. They said we were trapped but I don’t believe them. We will definitely, definitely find a way out. But I’m glad at least that we’re all together. If we’d been separated again…

We will get out.

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Subject Tex

Attn: Architect C.E.O. & B.M.F.,

I am the Assistant Supervisor in the machine room, sub basement C. I have collected data from system user Tex about his methods and have compiled this report.

Unlike the other subjects, Tex does not feel strongly that the Old World is the real world, or vice-versa. The subject has signs of instability that he sees in his mind as being an “essence mage”, or as he puts it “going with the energy flows”.

Subject entered the real world illegally using a monk, although the actual sorcerer usage was still in play at the time. We are working on fixing this glitch, but the subject clearly now believes he can ride not only common energies such as lightning but also “life” energy.

Subject regained understanding slowly, in fact the other subjects deduced who he was before he did. His heart rate increased considerably being among them again, and when he became aware of being a halfling male, he felt none of the common reactions others usually have, such as panic, depression or erection. In the Old World, Tex was a half-changeling and this may explain this phenomenon.

Tex went willingly wherever the others went, including a break-in led by the dreaded ogre Gobo. He acted to get power from the machine illegally, gave up and tried to protect Miria and Syral, then quickly returned to an attempt to siphon power from the machine. The eladrin Sucaeva eviscerated Team Supervisor.

Miria and Tex both showed a loss of simple motor skills, and in fact had enough feedback from the machine to knock them out. Shera the fox girl carried him out of the area and escaped capture, while tough-guy Syral ran off with little girl Miria.

In summation, from what information I can gather about his actions: Tex was happiest with his friends, Shera, Miria, Sucaeva and Syral, and would travel through anything thrown at him just to feel that one energy: Friendship.

Clearly Tex forgot that you can buy bottled friendship at the corner store for 300 creds.

Yours loyally,
Assistant Supervisor Gendarr

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Safety in Storms VI VI VI: by Gaston Redcap
the final entry

Dear reader, I have been trapped all night by this tormented drow, a being that possesses many faces, many minds, and many kills that has fixated on the headless corpse in this broken Inn and wishing to replace the head with…mine.

Well at times like this, I make an exit either stage left, or out the window. There is no stage left, so I crash through already broken glass hastening the drow’s approach. It is raining and cold. I cast a spell to veil my appearance and confuse the drow – the image of the headless half-elf corpse. When Tex sees me from the second floor the red eyes widen, and I feel winds start above the window and swoop down over me, bringing shingles and ripping the wood around the window. The drow turns back into the house to look for me. My veil has worked, and I stand to start my run into the woods!

Sadly my leg won’t respond as it should due to the fall, I summon reserved energy to try to get to the woods nearby. I trip as the ball of acid and lightning barely miss me. A small stump of a tree has ended my life…

It glides in cloak and black skin from the window to the grass below but not yet upon me. The stump however may be what saves my life as it is a marker, to show where the body of the wizard and his son are buried. Now the grave has been torn into by the drow blast and the body is not but bones. What is left of the wizard’s forehead should have no markings, but a red glow emanates-magic, magic active from the grave! It halts Tex, but something seems to try to raise the drow’s dagger for another blast.

My move is to my best weapon, my mind, as I peace together the clues. “With apologies Tex, but my head would not be able to change shape like you mother’s did, nor would my eyes glow with any colors chosen. You felt it in your heart that this person was not just your caretaker briefly, but your whole life…Lal.” The arm of the drow lowers as I continue “She hesitated but finally followed you to Stormpeak, and if there was a real Fie Vemaru, the man you have no reason to get so angry about, she replaced him and argued with Gendarr, perhaps in front of you. You must have seen the same love that she always showed in changeling, drow, or half-elf form. You sided with Gendarr, and she went mad, killing herself. I surmise that Gendarr had pity and returned her to the only place she was free, this old Inn where she shared her happiest moments with you.” Now in an out-of-breath final gasp I tell the drow “you need to re-establish what she had hoped for you, a simple and free life. Let your demons go.”

Dear reader, the words timed perfectly with a lightning flash, not from the drow but from the sky, and for the moment I could see it: a feminine imp of red over the drow’s left shoudler. It was waving a finger at me as if to imply it was not of demon ilk, but of devil’s work. The glow from the wizard was a still powerful familiar. No doubt related to Lal’s madness as well as the drow’s.

I raised my hand, asking for the dagger in the hand of the drow. Her hair was matted down from the rain and shoulders were beginning to slump. The drow began to buckle under the weight of the revelation. It raised the hand and I could not tell if it was going to point at me, or hand me the dagger, but it fell from powerless hands to the graveside. How I went about unsummoning the skeleton’s familiar is not something I wish to write about. These are the hands of a writer, a dancer, a romance artist, and what happened there…well, rest assured the drow was freed.

*Tex, I leave this, my only copy of our story in your hands. You have reclaimed much of your speech in the few short days we have had together, and I am sure you are in a hurry to see your “naive” party again. I swear that if I hear of you doing anything that goes against what Lal fought so hard for, the world will hear about it! Ha ha ha. He-hey!

The Eloquent, Handsome, Dashing, wanted for Ransom,
Gaston Redcap E.F.*
]Tex sis vivivi

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Sucaeva's memoires
No rest for the weary.

I remember when I first set out with Karal and began my quest to expand my powers. I remember my lofty goal of single handily protecting the natural balance from aberrations while pursuing the hated necromancers who caused me so much pain. I had a single purpose and a clear path. My how things have changed. I knew things would be different when I started my new life as an adventurer, but I never imagined myself riding in an airship, with an entirely new group of companions, or being enamored with a beautiful Gnome. Syral and Shira have definitely made life interesting. Syral has taken a set against our newest “companion” Sir Niles Hansen, why exactly, I don’t know. All, I know is that she won’t go near him even when we are being attacked by dragon knights thousands of feet in the air. I suppose I should try to explain who he is (even though I met him but a day earlier)and clarify recent events.

After the army of General Zitherune was thwarted, the Shadow Hunters were praised as the “Heroes of Outlook” (again), and were awarded with an astral diamond necklace, a new house in the Stonehammer district, as well as the love and adoration of the citizenry. However, our victory was blighted by the sudden departure of our companion Miria. Syral took it pretty hard. Shira did her best to comfort her, but she is still hurting over the loss and wants nothing more than to go to Lencia and find her. I wonder if there was anything more than just friendship between them. In any case, I became ill and had to confine myself to my room while Syral and Shira took care of some business in town, found Punmba in the sewers, and also held a tournament to recruit new members into the Shadow Hunters. I do not know all of the details, but we wound up with a Dwarf fighter named Thordrin son of Bordrin, and a rather zealous paladin of Bahamut. I maintain, much to Syral’s chagrin, that he is not evil, merely a zealot, whose actions done in the name of his god may seem extreme and almost evil to others…but I digress. Before I had a chance to even learn their names, before we had been given even a week’s respite after defeating an army, an airship arrived in search of the Shadow Hunters. We answered the call and went with Kruric to investigate. When we arrived at the landing site, we found a very damaged looking boat with a green-skinned individual standing before it. He was a Githzerai named To-kit who had come to find us so that we could help fend off an invasion by the Githyenki. We did not have time debate or say no because he said that he was being pursued and so we could not risk any harm to the city. We got in the airship, found our other companions and then headed off to the south where the fortress of Akmad awaited us. I was stationed in the crow’s nest since I am the natural lookout, and not too long after we left Outlook were we attacked by two githyanki riding dragons. I sounded the alarm and we all readied for battle (except for Niles since he had fallen ill). The dragons, one black, and one green, charged us and we let loose our weapons upon them. I shot hawks of flame from the crow’s nest, Syral threw her dagger with staggering precision, and Shira fired at them with a ballista mounted at the front (with limited success, but I blame the machine). We took down one rider fairly quickly, but the other evaded our blows. Then the fight took a nasty turn. Shira was quite injured, as was Thordrin, and then the dragon charged and knocked Syral off of the ship. I saw this whole new world around me begin to shatter. My love was injured and my good friend was falling. I only had seconds to think. Confident in Shira’s abilities, and seeing that the rider was quite injured himself, I decided to do something crazy. I jumped down from my post and dove off the side of the ship and flew (in a manner of speaking) towards Syral. I caught her after a few seconds and used my magic ring to slow our decent so that we landed safely in the trees. I could only hope that Shira fared just as well. I was half right as it turned out. When the ship came back to find myself and Syral, upon our return, we learned that Shira was knocked unconscious, but thankfully, Thordrin knocked the rider out of his saddle and saved her, which I am profoundly grateful for. I have grown quite attached to Shira, to say the least, and I do not want think about what I would do if anything happened to her.

We only had a couple of hours to rest and look over the ship. We found out details about the size of the force attacking the fortress and that there was an infiltrator and assassin there. We used To-kit’s knowledge of the terrain to formulate a battle plan for when we arrive. I probably shouldn’t say “we” since I was only told of the plan after the fact by Syral as I was back in the crow’s nest. I finish writing these words as I believe we are getting close to our destination. I fear that more dragon riders will be waiting for us.

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A Shifter's Thoughts
It's time for bed. Can you count the unfinished thoughts?

He is evil! He’s just using his position as an excuse to kill people! At least the vampire was honest. And argh he’s all Bahamut this and judge that and I am better than all of you anodnaodoaua GRAAAAH!!

He didn’t even come to help when I was pushed off a gods damned airship.

I don’t think Sucaeva and Shira believe me about how evil he is. But I don’t trust him and I won’t let him hurt them. And as much as I wanna go, I don’t wanna go to Lencia if it means bringing him. What if he decides Miria needs to be “judged” because she was in love with Mordred? It’s not like he was a vampire then.

I’ll kill him if he even tries to hurt her.

But she might not even be in Lencia, although I’m really really sure she is. Would she even be happy to see me?

But what if Mordred did, um. I’m sure he didn’t—why bite me if he could kill me, but then again that’s stupid, isn’t it? because obviously he wants me to lead him to Miria which I would do if I went to Lencia, right? He couldn’t tell me how a vampire tracks but what if he can track me here?

I can’t lead him right to Miria. I won’t.

…Maybe if I don’t sleep he can’t follow me, since I’m not dreaming! ‘Cept how’d he get into my dream in the first place since I never saw him before then… No, definitely, no sleeping. And if he says anything, I’ma stab him in the eye.

I really don’t get what she even sees in paladins.

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The Skirmish Above Akmad

“Galiya!” A happy Sajiter leaps over boulders through a now thinning cloud of dust to the spot where a female sits, her body showing fatigue from battle. From this point words are limited, but a hand on the shoulder and meaningful gazes shared bring the two githzerai to a sense of well-being quickly. Galiya looks up to the overhang where large boulders were released as a defense of the Akmad fortress.

When the battle began, two airships sent from the foul Emperess Blacketh had landed and troops were on the ground quickly. The boulder defense was not working and Sajiter had gone to investigate after being assured elder Odas would be fine.

The boulder defense had been compromised and githyanki were posted around it. Sajiter was pushed for action as the battle raged below, but he felt the githyanki woman was waiting for something. A third airship, the Conqueror had just arrived.

Whispering the need for his arrows to fly true, he prepared to take a high-point on the boulders and pick-off as many as possible. He held his action when a graceful razorclaw, a dark axe-wielding warrior on horse, an confident elf and a smiling gnome exited the Conqueror and quickly met the githyanki in battle. Soon his arrows would lend aid.

The Shadow Hunters had arrived, and they had the resolve to do what had to be done. Even though the boulder’s would surely end the lives of some githzerai, a war has losses you can’t stop. Strange symbols burst into the air from Shira the gnome, signaling simultaneous release of massive stone that fell on the battle below.

Quickly the Hunters boarded the Conqueror and the airship was met in air-to-air combat with a green dragon with rider. Sajiter took aim and had a direct hit, but it barely slowed the rider. The battle grew long, with both sides at the brink of defeat at any given moment. Reserve githyanki arrived with demon soldiers sending dread through the party, but then Sajiter was able to knock the dragon into a spiraling descent. Hansen the paladin took the brunt of damage, from the crow’s nest Sucaeva the druid guided the battle and guided hawks of fire to disrupt the rider. Shira the ballista captain proved her skill with the massive weapon with multiple direct shots. Syral who seemed uncomfortable with her paladin complicated the military strategy of the enemy with her roguish approach to battle.

The dragon finally fell, the airship was safe, and so too was Akmad. Galiya looked to calm Satijer more with talk that was not so serious. "Well what should we name the airship Akmad has acquired?

“How about the Contemplator?” and small laughter is shared between the two.

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Invitations
The best of intentions

Syral stomped into her room and dropped her bags and cloak to the floor. That arrogant bastard! Ugh! why did Shira even agree to let him tag along?! Acting like he knew everything about everything and lording over them all.

Articles of clothing flew across the room as she stomped about. She needed to calm down, needed to vent, needed…a bath. Yes, she most definitely needed a nice, warm bath. Her hair was matted with filth, and the fine hairs all over her body were so covered in gook that they really did resemble fur.

Finding a bath in the new house—why did they even have a new house anyway?—wasn’t too difficult. She sighed happily at the sight of the bath and tried to scrub most of the grime away as it filled. Steam made her job easier, and soon enough she was able to lower herself into the hot water all the way up to her nose. Slowly but surely her muscles relaxed as she paddled around blowing bubbles just below the surface. It really was a very nice bath. Big enough to move around comfortably, even if she’d been sharing it with someone else—

Syral quickly submerged, her eyes squeezed tightly shut as she shook her head and scratched her fingers roughly through her hair. She really was filthy. No time for daydreaming. And honestly, Pumba had better appreciate what they went through for him! It wasn’t every day she’d follow a companion down into the sewers—

She burst up through the surface with a gasp, the sound of water echoing in the room as it rained down on the stone floors. Really, she was spending much too much time in the bath. She trudged to the edge and pulled herself up, shivering a bit at the cold and ignoring the feel of half-washed hair against her back. Her footsteps echoed as she padded over to her towel and clean shirt, and if she dried herself off a little roughly, well, she was cold and in a hurry to leave.

The remnants of Miria’s things lay in the corner, ready to be seen as she opened the door. She kept her eyes carefully trained on the ground as she shut the door behind her, and artfully picked her way across the messy, clothes-strewn floor to her bed. A cool breeze whistled through the open window and she sighed as she shut it.

‘Look into your heart,’ the paladin had said. Syral flopped down on the bed and growled. As if he knew anything. And saying she couldn’t kill a vampire!

Syral rolled onto her side and curled up, the blanket clutched in her fists. “You don’t know anything,” she muttered through clenched teeth. Shira or Sucaeva would probably say she was being childish, and they’d be right, but she couldn’t bring herself to care.

And who knew; maybe he meant well. Goodness knew she couldn’t keep her feelings in check, and if she was honest with herself, she really hadn’t been able to kill that vampire. But all he had to do was look at her with that calm smile and she wanted to bite him. Her hairs already started to prickle at the memory as her fangs bit into her bottom lip. He had such nerve! They didn’t even need him! She wasn’t just going to sit back and give up Miria’s place—

She pushed herself up and off the bed hard enough to scratch the floorboards and started digging through her discarded clothes. The small pouch lay half-hidden beneath her cloak, and she quickly grabbed it to her chest. The mask pressed against her through cloth and shirt, and the faint crinkling of paper let her know the letters were safe.

Satisfied, she crawled back into bed, curled around the small pouch, and squeezed her eyes shut, willing herself to sleep.

_

The room was bitter cold. Syral sat up and reached for her daggers, only to encounter bare skin; she was still in her night shirt. She scanned the dimly lit room for any signs of an enemy, but nothing stirred. The hair at the nape of her neck stood on end, though, and she carefully slid off the bed, crouched low to the ground, and reached for her daggers lying atop her cloak. The feel of cold metal calmed her, and she sighed.

A cold laugh echoed hauntingly through the room and she jumped up onto all fours to stare at the massive figure at her window. He was pale as death, a black cloak draped over his armored frame, and she hissed as recognition hit. How had he found them?

“Let me in, child” he said softly, and his voice sent chills up her spine. She clutched her daggers tighter, ready to fling them at a moment’s notice. His red eyes caught hers. “I want to know where she is.”

“Never,” she spat, back arched and teeth bared. Her shifted form begged to be released. “I’m not stupid.” She hadn’t intended fighting him without learning at least a little about vampires, and she would never give away Miria.

His smile widened, baring white fangs. “You will submit, mortal.”

Syral threw her dagger at him, only for the blade to be repelled and sent back to her hand. He remained just beyond the open window, his cruel smile taunting. Syral paced back and forth, glaring at the pale face she couldn’t look away from. Each pacing arc brought her closer to the window.

“You can’t resist,” he said again, his hand beckoning. “Invite me.” Syral shook her head and tried to close her eyes.

“No! I know about you. Miria said—” She clamped her mouth shut, and his smile turned predatory.

“Miria? Ah yes, my lovely Miria. You want to fight me as she did? Shall I tell you how I broke her?”

“Shut up!” Syral charged the vampire only to be repelled herself. She crashed into the floor as he laughed, and still she couldn’t break his gaze.

“She didn’t even try to fight. She gave herself up willingly. Like a common whore.”

Syral flung her daggers at his face and he laughed again as they flew harmlessly back. “I’ll fight you! I’ll kill you for her!”

“You can’t kill me. You are as weak as her.”

The paladin’s voice echoed his and she screamed in rage. The fallen paladin’s soulless eyes were haunting. “I will!

“You can’t even reach me.”

“Because you’re a coward! Come in here and I’ll—!” Syral’s eyes widened in shock as the realization of what she said hit her. But realization came too late, and the vampire stood before her in her room, his hands cold as ice as he crushed her throat.

_

Syral woke with a scream and clutched at her neck. Her skin was smooth and unbroken—if cold—beneath her fingers, and she curled up in a ball as she hugged herself.

“Just a dream. It was just a dream…!” She repeated it over and over like a mantra, willing it to be true. It had to be true!

She clung to the covers and shivered, unable and unwilling to sleep, and unaware of the chill breeze that entered through her slightly open window.

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"Heroes" Continue To Cause Trouble
For Military Eyes Only

To: General Stone

The so called “Heroes of Outlook” continue to remain a blight upon the city. Just like a headless chicken they loll around Outlook behaving somewhat erratically. Such activities include opening cheese shops, touring sewers and making alliances with dark rat keepers. The disappearance of Lady Miria continues to be a mystery. Our best intelligence suggests that she was eaten by a mind flayer during a covert mission to something called “The Far Realm”. Such is the life of an “adventurer”.

Down in numbers the remaining members enacted a tournament to help them recruit a suitable replacement for their dimwitted, headstrong and morally dubious member. Of course, being “heroes”, they didn’t provide medics and much havoc was unleashed upon the populace. Thankfully, nobody died. They did however recruit new member “Thordrin, son of Bordrin”. He seems like a capable combatant though somewhat slow. He’ll fit right in. Later that day, working together, they slew the dreaded baby-eating monster of elf-town.

We’ve also gotten word that the “heroes” have been trying to hand choose the successor of Grand Ancestor Durkirk. Gods preserve us! Is there nothing that their hands cannot corrupt. The very latest reports just indicated that they are now approaching a mysterious flying ship that is hovering above the city. Perhaps it will take them away for good. Praise Moradin!

From: 1st Battle Master Wilhelm

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Safety in Storms V: by Gaston Redcap
Curse

During our conversation together, this mad person has slowly told me her past in efforts to find out if she is evil or not. The bodies are buried and hidden everywhere around this old Inn and would surely damn her to evil at first glance. Is it merely circumstance that caused her to end up like this?

She begins explaining her curse, not allowing me to break the conversation, and therefore keeping me from getting closer to an exit. She speaks as if she was the half-elf Adasunu, whom I met briefly before, and I fear is now stuffed in the armoire at the back of the room. “You see, I met Tex when she walked up to the outpost, she had been travelling with her mother, Lal, away from the Underdark towards the Questless forest.” The drow blinks in memory, her pink tear appearing for a moment, but she acts manly and brushes it aside quickly, and I finally know the name of my captor. “Her mother had drowned in a river after losing her footing. Tex tried to kill herself to follow her mother, out of despair, but as she jumped to the waters, a wind pushed her back to the riverbed. Poor dear thinks this was the first time she died, but it was just an early appearance of her magical ability, gods be praised.”

“I took her in, and although I asked her not to show her magic, she would sprout an arc of lightning in some of the most awkward times.” Tex in her Adasunu mannerisms is slumping to the floor, sitting next to the black burn mark that empahsizes the story. “Her mother also told her to hide her talents, and…maybe she knew her daughter was magic. If I were to guess, Lal was taking Tex into the forest, where magic is not rejected outright, but frowned upon. Arcanists often stayed at the inn to plan their arguements.” the Tex side of her speaks “That was a boy being to brash, he had to die for what he said to me! His father died to pay the mistake in full as any drow will tell you!” I quickly have lost Adasunu. Even more so since the Innkeeper’s uniform burns off her shoulders, she stand bare in front of me, and whatever curse she has, well, it looks worth it. This beauty only adds to her prison of person, where no one seems to hear her: drow, arcane, doppelganger, orphan, unable to speak coherently and a female’s beauty all keep her from connecting with someone to help her. I know the forest and they do make arcanists feel unwanted, so she must have ended her journey at this Inn, only a few steps from her and her mother’s goal.

I ask her about the curse and she answers more focused. “Adasunu was lying down in bed, when I returned, sick. The elves in the forest could be heard waiting to ambush me, I left to find a cure for Adasunu, in fact the Hunters and I came across the cure all the time. But then I remembered the portal of fey magic. This portal caused pain to my gnome ally, but turned goblins into fey women and if I was an elf, the other elves would surely help Addy. At the time, my body was stripped of my changeling heritage, and I was stuck in male drow, form, but I had a decent chance the portal would turn me into something not drow. It didn’t work and I also could no longer speak well. Guess I’m closer to a goblin than a gnome. I returned to find Adasunu had gotten out of bed, but he really shouldn’t have in his condition, have you seen him?”

“Ah yes, I have, in fact I will look around with you to reunite you.”

“Then you search the upper floor bard, I’ll grab my cloak downstairs.”

Damn. “What was the cure for what he suffered from Tex?”

She turns midfloat down the stairs, curving her form in a question mark, one red eye behind the white full hair looks at me. “Addy had lost his head, I was going to give him a new one.”

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Safety in Storms IV: by Gaston Redcap
Adasunu

This drow creature is humming a tune now. It feels like a tune for a child, but coming from this abomination, I find it quite warped and chilling. Her speech problem even appears in hums.

The drow has made her way to a corner armoire. It is deformed and splintering, it houses things I wish to see, yet feel might do the world better simply being set to flame. The sentence was meant to be vague, for I knew not if I meant her brain or the armoire.

“When I arrived in this place, there were no people, except for seasonal travellers. I guess the better description is `those with no home`. The Oak`s Inn gave me shelter. Adasunu was a tall handsome half-elf that studied sorcery like me. He even was a sorcer of storms. I had found the safety I craved after losing my mother.” She doesn’t blink at the fact that her mother died. I feel in my gut dear reader that she had something to do with her mother’s death and that Adasunu is in the armoire rotting. Where are these Shadow Hunters to help me?

“Years past but sometimes the two of us, my adopted father and I, would get a decent customer at the Inn. The elves in the woods had become familiar with our little team, and never bothered us. Once or twice they offered to seek help for us. That was nice of them, but we had heart and happiness, so we never needed a larger staff for the Inn.” You know and I know that was not what they meant, the help needed here is law, or counsel.

She pricks her ear up as if she heard something downstairs. It worries me. “Ah, do we have guests, or is Adasunu back from hunting? Be a dear and see who it is.” As I walk down the stairs, my thought is of continuing the walk, getting far away from this mad person. The Inn is empty and I look at more clearly. This place must not have been in service for years. The paint is stripped from the walls, windows broken, and wood warped by weather. Why did she think he was here? I return, but I stay at the door’s entrance. The armoire in the corner has been open and she stands before me in an Inn keeper’s uniform, wrinkled and ill-fitting. “Welcome customer, my name is Adasunu. Are you a friend of Tex?” Her voice is deeper but with the same poor speaking. I am seeing the poorest bluff ever performed by a doppelganger and it makes me…concerned.

“I do know your adopted daughter sir. She is a fine example of charm and femininity. How she isn’t taken yet is beyond me.” These words flow easily, for that is my ability. She looks at me like a concerned father. I seemed to have lost this ‘Tex’ and don’t have a clue if this ‘Adasunu’ character of hers is more of a danger.

“You are kind, I saw her a few weeks past, and she was stricken with a horrible curse. Would that she meet more gentle people like you, I would…” Horror of horrors! This is a man I fought with during my last trek to this Inn. As I said, I have been poor and had to make due at familar spots. This spot was known to me, for I had to fight off bandits just to keep this happy half-elf from succumbing to sheer numbers. We had a very skilled Dwarf of the Raven Queen with us, but no lasting partnership was made. I had met this changeling before!

The drow speaks, mannerisms are more confident “I apologize, my thoughts are on how I abandoned her in her time of need. If you see her, tell her to forgive me and I will do my best for her. May I share the story of her curse to unburden myself of guilt?”

“Yes of course, but let’s return downstairs” where the quick exits are plenty.

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