Song of the Ages

Lewd

Dear Journal of Lewdness,

Today I took back the painting that brought so much joy into my life. The nude photo of that nasty goblin is mine, at least for a second. Every crevasse of her body is engraved in my memory. Now I am haunted forever and must share this with the world. Nudity for everyone! You get a print and you get a print. Everyone gets a print!

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We stole a sacred relic
Farin

I can’t believe we actually managed it, but we did. The Black Foxes managed to steal the Dwarven Book of the Dead.
Wyllo, Fulgin, and Belfran tricked some of the archivists to give them a tour of the Archives, so they could scope the place out and figure out what we would need to do in order to break in, while Mosi and myself scouted out the sewers to find a way in, seeing as the Vaults are in the high society parts of town.
Made some easy money while we were down there, taking a job from the guards to fight a spider that was living down there. I didn’t even get a hit on it, Mosi just crushed it with two swings of his hammer before I could even blink.
Between the two of us, we found a good route to take, and even discovered that we could enter the Archives directly through the uh… lavatory.
The heist itself went off without a hitch. We got in, fought some stuff, took the book and got out again.
I feel really bad, taking this sacred object from the Dwarves… but it can’t be helped. We need this book. If it survives the machine I’ll mail it back to them.

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Still Alive
Wyllo

We did it. I think. No one is dead, at least.

I’m reminded of how much I don’t like my elven roots. During our mission to extract the final book, we had to do some recon that required me to disguise myself. I took up the form of a high elf woman, and personified the worst of what I view elven traits to be.

We didn’t get anything out of that, save for a layout of the mines, but it did help us get the book out.

Also, clockwork dragons are cool. But yes, we did it.

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Necessary sacrilege

Now, you may have noticed that I don’t hold a great deal of respect for surface gods. Sure, I don’t hold it against most people that they worship some strange, otherworldly beings that demand fealty in return for power, but the whole thing just strikes me as odd. I place more weight into how we approach it down below, but even then I’m not the most devout dwarf you’ll ever meet. Which is why I suppose I went along with what could only be termed as sacrilege.

You’ve got that confused look again. Why do you have that confused look? What do you mean, I skipped over some stuff? Ah, I guess I did. So, you know these books some mad goddess did something to? Yeah, those Constants. Turns out the last one is one of the most sacred of dwarven texts, the Book of the Dead. It’s ancient, written to keep track of the oldest and most respectable clans. Really, it’s like scripture. And we now knew we either had to steal it to extract whatever that goddess put in it or leave it and hope that the lich either couldn’t figure out what it was or how to get it.

I didn’t put much weight in that though. I mean, we were able to figure out what it was, so chances are he’d be able to do the same. As for getting it? Well, I was pretty sure we could get it, though we might just have to burn a few bridges running off with it. And if we could, then so could he. So we were left trying to steal it so it wouldn’t be stolen, right? Granted, removing whatever this surface goddess put in it just might destroy the tome, but it’s not like it’s irreplaceable. I can name at least three other places in Dunkuldir that would have copies of it in their archives, and that’s just off the top of my head. And as for the book itself, it’s not as if it’s holy. That’s a surface term, really. It’s more like it’s… respectable. Like a really old relic, yeah, but not like it’s imbued with power on the part of us, the dwarves.

I just hope it comes out in one piece though, just so that we can try to return it when this is all said and done.

So, we got into town and, for the most part laid low and started scoping out the Archives. Except Belfran, he decided to go up and start asking to see the dang thing. At least Wyllo gave a fake name when she started asking about it. We found out that, in a few more days, there’d be a performance that would have such a high-class audience that the guards would be focused there that evening more than normal. Belfran went so that he could have an alibi, but was still able to help us through his pet bird, somehow. The rest of us? We went to work.

We slipped into the sewers that we’d scouted ahead of time, then made our way to right under the Archives. Then we tunneled right up and surprised one of the staffers in the Archives toilets. Like, really surprised him. We tied him up though, along with the other two staffers we found, and made our way deeper, finding only clockwork guards that we finished off rather quickly. Granted, they’d probably be a far greater challenge to a normal group, but we’ve been around, seen a thing or two and each of us all have some magical weapon, so we are by no means normal anymore.

At the main vault, we found that they’d really outdone themselves though, with the clockwork guards nearly triple in size and backed by a clockwork dragon, of all things! I’m telling you, if we hadn’t been in such a hurry and the thing wasn’t actively trying to kill us at the time, I’d have just sat and stared in awe at the thing. The craftsmanship! The time and skill that must have gone into making such a contraption, it was astounding! Was, of course being the word I should use. I nearly cried when I took the thing’s head off, but it wasn’t giving us much choice, so down it went. Hopefully crafting a replacement isn’t another lost art, as it nearly breaks my heart thinking about it here and now. It was art, I tell you! Fire-breathing, razor-fanged art!

Sigh

What? Oh, yes. After that, we grabbed the book and ran like the thieves and vandals that we were.

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So many people want to live in Sotherland
Belfran

I’m worried about this issue with the Lighthand. They are important allies and clients of the Black Foxes and we can’t afford to antagonize them. Since Anya specifically asked for our help, we can’t afford not to help them.

On the other hand, we don’t really want them to move into Sotherland. Sotherland has enough paramilitary organizations.

Lucky for us, most of the Lighthand’s best selling points also make them a threat to Sotherland’s sovereignty. They have a strong moral compass. They are unaligned with any nationality. They’ve had a stabilizing influence on Hamil. I hope the Grand Marshal sees how they will never be loyal subjects and an idle neutral army inside the borders is a serious liability.

And we have to send that girl as the only representative of the Black Foxes interests. I hope she’s up to it.

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Cleaning house

So there, now you’re caught up on what else happened in that tomb. So, we spent some time resting down there before we came back, during which I think Fulgen finally started realizing that we weren’t just figments of his imagination. I do feel for him, you know? The man’s an illusionist that takes pride in weaving stories. I imagine that he was weaving stories upon stories for himself while he was trapped down there and was having a hard time pulling his mind out of what must have seemed to him as a story.

We returned home with Belfran’s magic only to find the place different from before. Some of the changes were bad- after all, seems like the lich’s cult had attacked the fort again in our absence and the guard was feeling even more on edge than before. But some was good. Buildings are going up outside of the walls and it seems like this place might actually become a town at some point. At least, everyone seems to think that’s a good thing. Just as long as no one goes around calling me lord, we’ll get along well enough.

So, the guard captain had some magic that let us talk with Sanders, our dearly departed traitor. Granted, we didn’t go out of our way to make him feel at home here, so I shouldn’t be too surprised that he turned on us like that. Mama Broarhush has a saying I heard once, ‘Any child hated by the village will gladly burn it all for warmth’. I don’t know if it’s an orcish saying or something else, but you get the idea. We brought him here, but mostly spent our time avoiding him or berating him due to his interest in necromancy. Mind you, I’m not sure why we brought him here in the first place, but once he was here, we could have done more.

Turns out his soul, or whatever we were talking to, is just as cheeky in death as he was in life. Only he wasn’t afraid of us now. No threats could encourage him to help us, but he did seem to have a fascination with Yoon and finally gave her the lich’s location to try to get her to consider joining it. I hoped Sanders is the last traitor we have to deal with, but it’s Yoon, right? She wouldn’t stab us in the back… silt… she just might. But now that we know where the lich is rebuilding- some ruined city in the north- now we have to figure out what to do about it. Do we march up there and storm the place or try to get the last book that the lich seems so intent on collecting before he does?

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Fire and Ice
Wyllo

Fulgen is alive. He’s not all here yet, but I suppose being trapped behind a mirror for months will do that to you.

We got through the caverns, but at the end, there was a skeletal beholder. I accidentally tripped something and we fell down into a deeper part of these caves, but that deeper part had a monster.

I don’t like beholders. I don’t like skeletal ones, either. I guess that’s what happens when a beholder tries to become a lich, though.

We made it through. A little (a lot) scratched, bruised, bleeding, but we made it. We found ourselves in a room with magical weapons, and I found an ice rapier. Firenze can have a friend. There were some other items, but where I wanted to ask Yaavys and Haqorel if there was anything they wanted, everything was claimed. Haqorel has her staff, but I think I’ll give Yaavys the Nine Lives Stealer until we can get back to the Keep. And if we convince her to come with us again, maybe that’ll help keep her a little more safe.

I don’t want to be responsible for someone dying. Plus, I like Yaavys.

I guess it’s time to go home. I’m going to ignore Almahen threatening us. (Yea, there was a note. Let’s not talk about it.)

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Leaving the tomb

So, after we left the tomb… wait, whaddya mean I jumped ahead? I told you about rescuing Fulgin, right? And did I tell you about that door with the puzzle lock on it? Yeah, you see! I didn’t jump ahead… wait, did I tell you about the undead beholder?

I didn’t? I guess I did jump ahead a bit then. Next drinks on me then.

So we saved Fulgin, though he seemed only partially aware of it. I mean, he acted like he was free, but each time Wyllo, Yoon or I tried to talk to him, he’d glance at us out of the corner of his eye and pretend he didn’t hear or even see us. At first I thought he was somehow angry at us and this was his way of showing it, but I started noticing him giving that same furtive look at empty air. I think he was seeing things that weren’t there and he was assuming that we, his old friends at least, were part of that as well. Sure, he’d talk to those of us that he didn’t know since I figure he assumed they were real, but us? Ignore so not to show how far gone he really was. He couldn’t even seem to process the times where those of us he considered ‘real’ interacted with us, his figments. He does seem to be getting better, but this is probably going to take some time.

After we grabbed Fulgin, we got through the puzzle door and deeper into the tomb. There were some more traps, this time in the form of a bunch of mimics that tried to eat us, but we eventually got past them. That’s when we triggered a trap. Granted, I think we had to trigger it to move on since it looked like a dead-end anyways, but it was a bit frightening to be walking down stairs that suddenly became some chute and a pit yawning open ahead. We tumbled into the room hidden at the base of the chute, only to realize that there was some undead abomination rearing up and looking quite angry with us. I didn’t even know that beholders could be liches.

Yeah, you heard me right. A beholder-lich. As if a beholder or a lich wouldn’t have been bad enough, we had to find ourselves locked in a room with something that was both. The fight was a bit of a blur for everyone, me especially. It’d zap me with some of its magic and suddenly I can’t help but feel that this creature is some kind of stony saint! Then it nips me and breaks me out of that daze, only to zap me with something else and knocking me clean out! I’m just glad that the others were able to take care of themselves more than before, even that little dragonborn girl that’s been following us around. Ah, you know her, do you? She’s been saying what!? Well, that’s a lie. I’m a dwarf and am not some kind of bear, thank you very much. Believe me, if I was, I would have used it in a few of the fights we’ve had, like against the Duke or while protecting the Empress.

Anyways, we managed to break whatever spell was keeping that thing moving and we managed to move past that point to the actual vault. There were a few magical items that were sitting around, but nothing that seemed like it was holding the lich’s soul. In fact, we found a note from the bloody thing that seemed to be mocking us and our efforts.

Smelly wizard, what does he know? He doesn’t even know when to die.

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The Oath Bow
Farin

Finding the Lich’s lair was not much trouble. Our new partner, Haqorel, who happens to be a goliath, mentioned a place her kind never venture, an area on the frozen tundra they dare not go. We figured that we should head there. Together, she and I managed to lead the party safely there, even though we only possessed a vague knowledge of where to go.
The entrance wasn’t hard to spot, a giant skull carved out of stone in the side of a hill. Never seen a clearer X marks the spot in my life.
Inside there were puzzles to solve, and we found what someone that Wyllo and Yoon seem to know, a mad man named Fulgen.
But then, he’s apparently been in there for months with only his illusions and delusions as company, I figure just about anyone would be crazy after that.
Anyways, Wyllo and Belfran did most of the brainwork in solving the various puzzles in the dungeon.
Unfortunately the lich’s soul thing wasn’t there. I guess Mr. Lich has been spying on us during our dungeon crawl because he left us a note, which we found among some goodies.
Everyone got weapon from this quest. Yoon has some black magic blades, Wyllo got another rapier. She’s fond of those. Mosi, Fulgen and Belfran also got some shinies, but I’m not sure who got what.
Myself, I got a long sword. I’m not super handy with those, but I’m sorely in need of a magical weapon. I’ve been vulnerable without one considering the foul creatures we’ve been fighting. It doesn’t do anything, it just glows.
We found some special dragon arrows, for dragon slaying. I kept those too, seeing as I’m the most handy person in our party with ranged weapons.
And lastly, a bow.
An Oath Bow.
I’ve only seen one of these in my life, and before now have never laid hands on one. But one of my favorite characters from childhood stories had one, a character from The Folly of Llamryl.
It’s a bow of elven make, and despite my strong dislike for my people, and my culture, I can’t help but be drawn to this weapon. I’ve been running from my kind for so long, and even after coming face to face with my father again, I continue to reject them.
Perhaps it’s time for me to grow up. I’m not a child anymore, and I really need to stop acting like one. My kind are cold, and calculating. The politics in the elven world has poisoned my outlook on my entire species for so long. It’s time I look past it.
I will never again dwell in Celeria, but I can’t be a human, no matter how hard I try.

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Fulgin is back, but not quite

So, when we got to that town, whatever it was called, I got a little carried away at the tavern and ended up sleeping under a bench. As such, I missed Sanders trying to sell us out and then getting killed, as well as finding and taking in that hulking woman with a busted leg. They caught me up on it in the morning, but still feels weird that so much happened in such a small town.

What do you mean I shouldn’t have drank that much? Did I ask for your opinion on my drinking? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Plus maybe I prefered sleeping under that bench that night and it wasn’t related to how much I drank, did you consider that, smart guy?

Anyways, we left the next morning with the barkeep staring daggers at our backs and this new goliath limping along beside us. I suppose I could have carried her- don’t give me that look, I could have- but she seemed adamant about doing this on her own. We got to the next town, which was actually a decently-sized, though frozen over, port town and spent some time finding out more about the area and to see if anyone knew anything about a bard passing through earlier that year.

Why were we asking about a bard? Well, you remember Fulgin from much earlier? Turns out that shortly after he left us in Sutherland, he went looking for some of the lich’s relics, trying to figure out a way to kill it for good. It sounds strange just saying it, but apparently a lich stores its soul elsewhere, so killing it really doesn’t really help, since the killing part doesn’t quite stick, you know? Last we heard, he had come down to this port and we figured we could catch up to him and see what he’d found out so far. Turns out people did remember him passing through town a number of months ago, but had left with some hired muscle to check out a supposed tomb somewhere in the frozen wastes south of us. We got enough information to be able to find it ourselves, so we set out to catch up or see what he’d been looking for.

Luckily, the tomb was fairly easy to find. It was some large, stonework skull entrance in the middle of nowhere. Subtle, right? The hard part was once we got inside. We triggered something and the entrance nearly sealed on top of us. We got inside, but were stuck. Before us was some puzzle door and we had to search some side rooms for keys that would open it. Some required killing things, but most of the rooms just required us knowing full well that what we were looking at was a trap meant to kill us. We even found Fulgin stuck in a strange mirror room. We got him out, but he doesn’t seem right in the head. Granted, if he’s been down here since he left town, that means that he’d been stuck there for months and, well, I imagine I’d be a little soft in the head too if I had to do that.

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