Year 26435 A.B.
I find I cannot sleep and must sort out recent events. Perhaps putting my thoughts to paper will put them to rest in my head. At this moment I am sitting in the hold of a ship, heading towards Eknil, towards home, and I find I am filled with conflicting emotions from the events that have unfolded since my last writing. This will likely be a rather long entry, as I feel so much of note has happened in the short amount of time since my last entry.
To begin, it wasn’t long after Elliphany and I arrived back at my apartment that Northrop came knocking at my door, decidedly concerned for us. The ensuing conversation led to us telling him everything, from how we got hired by Eisenheim right up to killing his brother Matthew a couple of hours previous. Northrop also told us that he’d seen someone snooping around my apartment earlier in the day while we were out, which of course was rather suspicious at the time. We shared some wine with him before he left and I set about making some food for Elliphany and myself.
Later in the evening, while digging into the book about doppelgangers, I was surprised to hear another knock at the door. Upon looking out the window, I saw a figure similar to that which Northrop had described earlier. Wishing for more protection than just my scales and the shirt I was wearing, I opened the door with some hesitation only to be confronted with a sight I wasn’t sure I should believe.
It was Das standing at my door! Still uncertain, as I feared a doppelganger in disguise, I invited him in, whereupon he told a story that I’m still having trouble grasping. He looks older now, and explained that he had been away for ten years by his perception, on his home plane. He is now the last surviving member of his race by his perception, and came back here to, in his words, finish what he started. During the course of his story he mentioned a few details of what we had gone through on Ginoa that made me feel a bit better about his identity. Elliphany and I told him a bit of what we had just learned about the doppelgangers, how they’re apparently a sort of hive mind and that every individual is connected in some way. With this thought to chew on we decided to retire. I didn’t sleep well.
The next day was fairly uneventful. Das decided to go down to The Pits to try to gather some information, and with the king having just died I decided to go to the temple to see if I could offer my services while Elliphany stayed at my apartment to study the book some more.
Upon arriving at the temple I found it nearly empty, and learned from a servant that the clergy were out in the city, spreading the word of the Raven Queen to the grieving. I decided to do the same, but upon leaving the temple came across something I was quite frankly rather disgusted with. A stack of fliers. Brochures for the priests to hand out. What can a cheap paper teach someone that spoken word cannot? Can a paper provide a blessing, or comfort a grieving mother? I put the fliers back where they lay an went on my way, wondering if the priests of Ambrovere actually thought they were doing some good, or if it was pure laziness that drove them to use such methods.
The rest of the day passed rather uneventfully. I managed to provide some assurance to the grieving, worried folk I came across, though the city seemed unusually empty. The only thing of note I heard during the day was someone speaking of all the wood being taken up to the castle for the king’s funeral pyre.
I arrived back at my apartment at around the same time as Das, who was wearing just about the most foul smelling rags imaginable. I only allowed him in after he took the rags off and hung them on a post outside, and then he proceeded to tell us of an abandoned fortress just outside the city that recently suddenly started receiving a supply train. I spoke a little of attending the funeral the next day and we all agreed that it would be something we shouldn’t miss. Das went to take a bath while I cooked dinner, and Elliphany related what she had learned in her studies of the book on doppelgangers that day. There’s quite a bit of information there. For instance, we know they’ve attacked this world before a few thousand years ago and were pushed back by brute force, not to mention quite a few anatomy-related details that should give us a palpable edge when fighting the bloody things.
My sleep, again, was light and fitful. The natural state of the world is out of balance and it is our fault, even if we were ignorant of our actions at the time, and it is…getting to me. Death incorporated into the normal cycle of things is all well and good and is as it should be, but now we have multitudes more dying due to an outside influence, a war that likely would not have happened if not for us. I have to wonder though, now that the matter is on my mind, how did the changelings know when the portal was going to be opened? Was Eisenheim somehow in their employ? At a guess based on what we’ve read of them, they actively travel from plane to plane, seeking to take over other worlds. Perhaps, then, we only sped them along, and if not for us it would have happened some other way. We have no way of knowing.
I got up early the next morning to make breakfast and Elliphany, Das and I came up with a loose plan of action. We rightly decided not to show up to the funeral together, though I, at least, stand out even alone here. I often feel out of place amongst the other races simply due to my size; I stand more than a full head taller than most others, not to mention my draconic heritage. The full set of wings on my back only serves to draw more stares. As a Dragonborn traveling abroad, I vehemently regret my people’s stubborn insistence upon cloistering themselves in one place, if only because we’re now a novelty anywhere else.
I asked Das to assist me with putting my armor on. For all it’s virtues, the fact remains that I found the set of plate in a secret room in a forgotten temple. It wasn’t made for me, and certain parts of it are difficult to put on without help. I thanked my eladrin friend and left, heading for the temple, certain I would receive a warm welcome into their ranks for presiding over the ceremony, as I come from the largest and most revered temple of my Queen on Kalos, and the clergy had been more than welcoming up to this point.
Upon arriving at the temple, I found the high priest arguing with some officials, and came to find that our temple would not be allowed to perform our sacred duty to oversee the funeral and cremation of the king, as has been our right and honor for ages past. We were being allowed to attend, but nothing else.
The ceremony was complete bollocks, though now in hindsight I see the reason for it. We were ushered into the courtyard with only some cursory looks by the guards overseeing the affair, in contrast to the rest of the crowd whom were being checked more thoroughly. Then, in near full silence, four guards came out of the castle proper carrying a cot, upon which lay a dwarven body wrapped in a shroud. With no priests, and no actual ceremony to speak of, they placed the cot upon the funeral pyre the had been erected. The Prince came out then, lit the pyre…and that was it. Not a word spoken by anyone overseeing the funeral. Nothing. Most certainly not a ceremony befitting the man it was centered around.
After, I met with Elliphany and Das, and we decided to go down to one of the seedier pubs in town in an attempt at finding out more about the cargo heading to the “abandoned” fortress. Somehow Das managed to acquire disguises for Elliphany and myself (as though I could effectively blend-in somehow) while I ran back to my apartment to fetch his own disgusting one. We met back up and found a pub down by the docks.
Das managed to engage some dockworkers in conversation, and I let him do the talking as he seemed to have a plan. Somehow he got them talking about moving some illegal cargo, asking to meet with whomever is in charge of such things, and they told up to meet them on the docks later that night. You can imagine our frustration, then, when we arrived at the designated spot and time to find no one around. Das noticed some movement back along the way we came, and we made our way back in that direction. I kicked a door in where he saw the movement at and found myself confronted with the dockworker from earlier.
The ensuing confrontation…I know I shouldn’t find it funny, what we did to this poor man, but I do! Between the two of us, with Das threatening every sort of harm upon the man and his family and myself, well, just being large and able to growl and make other dragon-like sounds, I’m amazed the man didn’t piss himself. We were able to extract from him that he really didn’t know anything about any of what we had asked about, and was just trying to scam us. Das set him to go over the course of the next day and try to obtain some actual information for us, and told him to come back the next night and relate it to us.
…Come to think of it, the wretch is probably still waiting there, as frightened as he was of us. We never did make it back to that crummy, run-down pub.
By the time we arrived back at my apartment, it was rather late, so I immediately knew that something was wrong when I found Northrop waiting outside, apparently for our return. He got up and showed us something rather troubling, a small rune he had noticed inscribed on my door, and described it as a magical trap that would have killed whomever walked through the door, with a potentially late effect of a couple hours. He explained that he was able to counter the magic, which didn’t strike me as odd at the time, though it should have, and also told us that some guards had come buy looking for myself, Elliphany, and “the barbarian,” suggesting that they didn’t know Bharv had split from us, or that Das was with us.
Deciding that my apartment was no longer safe to stay at, we gathered out gear together and went to spend the night in a room that Das had paid for, at an inn on the other side of the city. What a great false sense of security that gave us. We hadn’t been up for long the next morning, and I was in fact half-undressed, in the process of putting the first layers of my armor on, when Das noticed someone outside that door. As he drew his bow, the window at the side of the room broke inwards, and with it came a cylinder of some sort. Das shot the thing out of reflex and it exploded. I think I may have blacked out for a moment afterwards, because the next thing I know I’m surrounded by guards and being tied like a prized hog set for the fire, and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it.
Our captors placed hoods on our heads and dragged us through the city and into a building. They finally deposited us in chairs and tied us to them before removing our hoods, revealing a dark room lit by only a single torch, which was above and in front of me, making it difficult to see anything but the table in front of me and the two guards standing slightly behind me. I growled and was granted a small mote of satisfaction when one of them stepped back a pace.
After waiting a while, someone else came into the room behind me and approached where I was tied. The first action this new person took was to punch me across the face with a steel gauntlet, to which I responded with a roar. Of all the things I had been expecting I don’t think that was one of them. The man asked me then if I was involved in the death of Matthew VonVandercrest and I replied that yes, he tried to kill me so I cut him in half. I felt a blade sink into my side then, professed my ignorance and absence of involvement in the death of the king, and was rewarded with another stab, on the other side this time. Those spots still smart a bit, I think the blade may have scraped my ribs.
The final question put to me was about the changelings and how they got to be here, which I answered as truthfully as I could while leaving out the details of our direct involvement. This time I was rewarded not with steel, but an attack on what felt like the very fibers of my being. I have never felt such pain, and I must have screamed awfully, though I don’t remember. It took me a while to regain my senses after that, by which time I was laying on my side on the floor by the wall, still tied to the chair, and Das had been dragged over to the table.
Our captors hadn’t the chance to begin interrogating my eladrin friend, however, as the door opened and a cloaked figure entered. He demanded that he be allowed to interrogate us by himself, alone, and threatened the reluctant guardsmen with the name of someone called Dark-Hands. They quickly left, and once the door was closed the new figure removed his hood to reveal a face I knew quite well. It was Northrop! He quickly went about untying us explaining that he had been somewhat deceptive with me. Revealing that instead of a mere servant of the guild, he was instead a rather skilled mage in his own right, and was in fact the leader of a somewhat secretive group of mages in the guild tasked with keeping magical order. Northrop had us wait for a few moments while he went out into the hallway alone, then motioned us out. We exited to find the guards in a magical slumber, and proceeded to sneak down the hall to the storage room where our belongings were being kept without incident.
I finally got my armor situated with Das’ help. I really do need to have an armor-smith look at my Plate. As grateful as I am to have found a set of magic plate armor that fits me rather well, and in the middle of a dungeon no less, it’s nigh on impossible to put it on without help, and I haven’t had that issue with other Plate I’ve worn. We attempted to sneak back out of the room, but I happen to be a big clumsy oaf at the best of times, and right then I managed to somehow get my armor to make a rather loud CLANK. This was followed shortly thereafter by the wall in front of us exploding outward, revealing one who could only be the man Northrop had called Dark-Hands, for his fingers looked black with frostbite.
The ensuing fight was not a lengthy one, though it was quite intense. We finally bested the man, and after a little searching of him and his things recovered evidence that he was working with the changelings, and that the king was not dead, but instead held captive in the formerly abandoned fortress outside the city. I said a short prayer for the departed under my breath before we left. No matter the path taken in life, no one should be allowed to come back after death has truly taken them; the body must remain lifeless and the spirit must be sped upon the Long Journey through the Shadowfell to its final destination.
It seemed to us then that the best course of action would be to trek out to the fortress to see if we couldn’t rescue the king. I bid Northrop farewell with an extra thank you for rescuing us before we set out, as he himself was unable to leave the city. It took us the better part of a day to reach the keep in question, and it didn’t take much searching for us to find a place where the crumbling walls had collapsed, allowing us an easy entry point. The fight to take the place was somewhat lengthy, but not nearly as intense as taking on Dark-Hands the day previous. On a side note, my species ability to forcefully vomit acid is somewhat gross to actually utilize, but is quite effective none the less.
We found King Franzibold Bluefoot in the keep’s dungeon, filthy, bruised, and bloody. His formerly glorious beard had been hacked off and he was dressed in rags, sitting in a cramped, dirty cell. We made our introductions while opening the cell and tried to provide a concise explanation of the situation before heading back to the city. The king, even in rags, moved with determination, with a force, and it was all we could do to simply follow in his wake. We were waylaid at the gates to the city for only a moment when the guard didn’t immediately let us in, much to the king’s outrage. His superior recognized His Majesty, however, and once again we were swept up in his wake, all the way up through the city and into the palace, never stopping until we reached the throne room where Prince Thormin Bluefoot sat, veritably draped across the throne.
“Ah Father, I see you’ve managed to dig yourself out of that pit I threw you in,” were the greeting words of the crown Prince to his father, upon whose throne he sat. The following exchange was heated, and the prince revealed that he had put himself in line with the changelings, made a deal with them to secure power for himself. In short order thereafter, the Royal Guard – who had been conspicuously absent at the false funeral ceremony – appeared in the throne room. Apparently they had been doubtful of the King’s death and were waiting for something like this to happen. Instead of going for us like I initially expected, they surrounded the throne, and when next I saw the Prince he was being carried off with one Royal Guard on each limb.
Once King Franzibold had been given some more suitable clothing by his servants, he sat us down and bade us give him a full explanation of what was going on. It is never wise to lie to a king, so we did just that. We gave him the full story, everything we knew, with the king stopping us every so often to ask pointed questions. He declared that the solution we obtained for revealing doppelgangers be replicated in quantity and that everyone in the Kingdom of Brahve be tested with it, himself included. Afterwards, he declared that for our role in the current ongoing disaster and the harm and death caused to the people of Brahve, we were sentenced to beheading. A pregnant pause followed, but His Majesty had another declaration forthcoming. For saving his life and helping to oust his treasonous son from power, and for our ongoing actions to fight and correct the mistake we made at Ginoa, we were pardoned from the beheading. However, we were subsequently banned from the continent as well. King Franzibold told his Royal Guard to see that we were outfitted with a ship and supplies to take us on a one way trip to wherever we wanted to go, pointedly calling us ‘friends’ in the process, so that’s something at least.
I suggested we head to Eknil, as I’m considered the equivalent of nobility there, and I have hope that will be of some advantage to us, whether it be easier access to transportation and supplies or a simple reduction in the amount of people we have to answer to. Perhaps both! I plan to keep my armor packed away while we’re on the ship, plate steel and ocean do not mix well.