Song of the Ages

Secret Text Passage

Copied secret text uncovered in the Book of the Vile

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Wait, what?

You know what you never really hear about? Dwarves at sea. Sure, mountains and hills are obvious, and even forests and swamps are possible, but on the ocean? I can’t even name one dwarf who likes being out there, not even myself. No stone anywhere, nothing to stand firm on or put your back to in a fight. Just water. Not that I fear it, mind you, just can’t see myself wanting to stay out there.

After some time on Drathl, we chartered a boat to the Blackhull Isles to make sure the cat would be properly buried. All through that time, I worked beside the sailors and learned a few things about knots, but the others were busy talking with each other or snapping at each other. That quiet fellow that helped us fight the dragon spent a lot of time separate with Wyllo, but I suppose that was for the best. She’s been on edge since Oak started talking about her family and I think she’s still trying to work her way through it. The more time away from Oak while she does that, the better in my mind.

When we did get to Dustmere, Yoon started acting up too. I swear, some days I miss my time lost in the forest. At least then I could kill my problems, but now they’re just all around me and I have no idea what to do about them. We finally found one of the cat’s tribe who would cremate her body as they see proper, but then Yoon just up and vanished. Meanwhile, Oak started talking about going to Celeria alone to save his family. To top it all off, Farin got kidnapped, though I’m still not too sure why. Wyllo said something about him being an elf noble in disguise, but I think she’s starting to crack from the stress of all this. Perhaps once we get Farin back and help Oak with his problem, we can take some time at the keep and just relax.

Yeah… relax at our ruined keep that is apparently now being targeted by cultists worshiping a lich. That sounds just perfect for our fearless leader. At least Yoon came back from wherever she ran off to.

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Captured
Farin

Well, isn’t this just peachy…
My captor has finally given me my journal back, after several days aboard this Seven forsaken ship. While I am very pleased to finally have my journal safely in my hands, I am far more displeased about my entire situation.
By the Seven! How did things go so wrong so quickly?

I don’t normally travel with other mercenaries, seeing as I can’t talk and most don’t have much patience for that fact. Not that I mind, Fenris is more than enough company for me. I’m efficient enough to get most jobs I’m hired on to do done on my own.
But hey, I thought, why not join this group, for awhile at least?
I mean, they offered me a place, and Fenris seemed to like their leader, Wyllo. It seemed harmless enough to join forces with them. How very very wrong I was.

It started out well enough. Belfran, a nerdy type Dragon-born actually let me handle the very book that was used to summon the Demon from the tournament. I figured before setting hand on that thing that it would be a twisted, dark tome, but damn. That thing was worse than I could have imagined. I noticed almost immediately there was a code, hidden in the text…
I say hidden, but honestly, it wasn’t really hidden. Glowing letters scattered across the pages, nestled right in the very text of the book. The letters themselves are nonsense, but having seen a pattern just like this before, I knew this to be important. Belfran had me translate the coded parts of the tome over the week we spent in Drathl.
I even had a chance to tell him about the other book in which I found this very same sort of code embedded in the text.
Of course, that code was different in one regard. In the Treatise the coded was much harder to spot. Instead of glowing letters that drew the gaze the code was in the form of grammatical errors and misspellings.
Anyways, getting off topic…
Wyllo’s wild… I’d say friend, but I’m not actually sure that they are indeed, friends. Perhaps associate would be the better term. Whatever their history, it seems it’s a one-sided relation… Anyway, Wyllo’s associate Yoon, insisted that the group travel to Blackhull to bury their fallen comrade, though it’s pretty clear now she had other motives to travel to the pirate kingdom.
I was excited to be going along. It was the first time I’d been to Blackhull since this all began 25 years ago.
The voyage was shorter than expected, only two weeks. I would have spent my time writing in my journal if I hadn’t gotten distracted by another task. Wyllo was interested in learning Infernal, so I tried to teach her, best I could. There isn’t much I could really teach seeing as I can’t teach her pronunciation at all, for obvious reasons. But I did start on teaching her some basic grammar and spelling on the writing and reading of Infernal.

And then…
One day, while working on Infernal with Wyllo, she asked me about my ears. The question took me by surprise. Most people don’t even notice them, and when they do, I just lie about it, or ignore the question. It’s not hard to not tell someone something when you can’t speak.
Since I’d spent nearly two weeks with her, working for hours on teaching her what I could about Infernal, I felt like I had gotten to know her a little. Plus Fenris trusted her, something he never does, ever. I decided to tell her the truth.
I told her about my parents, about running away, about cutting my own ears off. She didn’t seem surprised that I was an elf, but rather annoyed that I was in fact a noble. Then she showed me something that took me by surprise. From her bag she pulled a sketch of my Aunt. I couldn’t fathom why she would have that in her possession. I told her that the picture was, in fact, my Aunt.
“She’s my Aunt too.” was Wyllo’s response.

I have a cousin!

Growing up, I was the only child in the Family. I had no cousins, or siblings. My father was a bit older, but his siblings were only a hundred or two hundred years older than me. I grew up with no one my age. And I get that Wyllo isn’t technically my age either, if you get down to it. I’m probably a hundred and ten or so years older than her, but as far as mentality goes, we’re both young adults.
I found this news so exciting. I finally have family that isn’t awful.
I don’t know how Wyllo feels about the discovery. She’s not the talkative sort, (and neither am I (hahaha)) and she really didn’t say much about our newfound kinship.
I don’t know much about her background, but I get the feeling she grew up without family, so maybe blood doesn’t mean much to her. I don’t know.

Things seemed to be looking up. For the first time in years, I had comrades that I got along with, and more importantly, I had family.
It was short lived, however. We’d only been on Blackhull for a day or so before things went south.
It was my own stupid fault really. Perhaps if I’d declined joining the Black Foxes in the first place, or even if I hadn’t suggested we follow Oak (a rather distasteful wood elf) to see what was going on.
He met up with some High Elf, who mentioned that he knew about me. That’s when I decided to split. We were spying on him at the time, and hearing that the High Elf knew about me sent a wave of dread straight into my heart. I fled the scene only to be ambushed and taken captive.
For the first while, I was tied up and had to endure the High Elf’s gloating. He sure likes to hear himself talk. The arrogant bastard kept asking me stupid questions that I wouldn’t bother answering even if I could, and stating the obvious. Finally he decided that I wasn’t going anywhere, since we’re in the middle of the ocean and all, and he gave me my journals, and writing supplies.
And now I’m being hauled off to Celeria, and my wonderful life as Farin is now over. I don’t know what is going to become of me, but I doubt it’ll be good.
My heart aches to be back on the mainland with Fenris. He must be so distressed without me.
I hope that Wyllo will at least take care of him. She’s all he has now.
My poor pup. Fenris has never been without me. I’ve raised him since he was a pup, hardly weened from his mother.

I had a good run. I spent 25 years pretending to be someone, and even something I’m not. They have been the best years of my life.
I don’t regret leaving Celeria one bit.

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Troubles and Tomes
Joan's J ournal

In the name of Syr Evan himself, what is this country coming to?

Since coming to aid in protecting Fort Dax, I have witnessed the death of two Stewards and the Grand Marshall. While that chaos has indeed been troubling, it at least was focused at the capital and not as widespread as what I have begun to see cropping up among the lowest of folk.

I get ahead of myself. I was focused on maintaining the security of both the Fort and its surroundings, but my men were stretched thin with the recent arrivals of travelers and settlers that have begun to appear. As such, when I heard rumors of strange people stirring up trouble on the edges of our lands, I went myself to find out what to make of it. I took Jean-Paul since, if anything evil is afoot, he might know more about it than I. Additionally, I recruited Brosh from the smithy to aid us with his strength and Walter himself accompanied us, though he seemed more worried about the people not being registered than he was that they might be causing trouble.

We ventured into the woods and soon found a hermit’s cave. However, we found signs that this hermit had been recently and violently removed from his cave and carried away. We followed these signs until we found a middling group of tents, filled with people dressed in strange robes and worshiping odd images. Jean-Paul managed to scout the camp with his abomination of a pet and found that a man was being kept bound in the main tent. Being that it was becoming more and more apparent that these people were indeed members to some new cult, we decided to try to save him that night. Brosh and I approached the guards and made a fuss about them trespassing while the others slipped in to save the captive. While I am still amazed that they didn’t attack us on the spot, I am more amazed that they let us walk away once we received a signal from the others that they were out. However, our good fortune was quickly counterbalanced with the news that the captive was dead. Whether this happened before we arrived or while we waited for nightfall is unknown, but it weighted on me as we returned to the keep, fully expecting them to come after us.

As to why they’d come after us, we’d revealed that we were from the nearby fort while we blustered and stalled with the guards and, though the captive was beyond our aid, my companions had found, among his belongings, a strange device and a tome that Brosh recognized from his time with the Black Foxes in the Deep. Though I am unsure of the exact details, these things seemed to have been the reason for the hermit’s capture and something that was better kept beyond this cult’s reach.

We returned to the fort without incident and I put my men on alert as we hid these strange things. Days later, during the festival that many had been preparing for, one of my guard admitted that they’d discovered that their own son was hiding a pair of these robes, indicating that the cult was probably among us even now. Rather than wait, I decided to draw them out, asking Brosh to attend the festivities and draw all eyes to him. When several of the revelers drew weapons, we sprang into action. The fight was brief but fierce, but at the end, we managed to capture most of the cultists. Later, we managed to rally our forces enough to drive the cult from our lands, though their leader escaped.

I then sent word to the Black Foxes, relaying to them news of the hermit, who apparently had been a friend of theirs, as well as news of this cult that is growing like a cancer among the people.

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Letter to Scratch
Wyllo

Scratch,

Do you know anything about my blood family? The crew that I’m part of has someone who’s elvish and let slip that he’s on the hunt for half elves who could ruin the elven reputation. Apparently, I have an aunt who’s a high elf?

Tell me what you know. Please.

Wyllo

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Qelroth Delmirev
Belfran

I have to admit that he has accomplished something amazing. His clan abandoned him, but he never turned his back on his clan. He used the time of his exile effectively. He made the contacts he needed to accomplish his goals. He achieved what his entire clan could not. They will tell his story in Drathl for generations. The dragonborn who the whole country trusted, exiled for his failure, returned without clan and without an resources of his own to undo his original failure, revealed the evil that plagued us, and defeated it. He will be famous, the Hero of Drathl. Drathl will forget that a foreigner made the killing blow on the red dragon. I’ve already heard people call him Qelroth Dragonslayer. I have a feeling this isn’t the last impressive thing he will do in service of his clan. The Moonscale Clan has never had a chieftain who wasn’t of pure blood, but Qelroth might find that his future leads him there.

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Not myself

What? Oh, thanks… yeah, we did it, didn’t we? Took on the Redclaws and their heretic king, disposed of the new dragon rule, yadda yadda yadda…

What do you mean you want to hear more than that? Were’nt you there? Yeah, then you know… oh, you’ll buy me a drink? Fine, have a seat and give me a minute. Sorry if I seem a bit shook, but that fight just leaves a bad taste in my soul, if you know what I mean.

So, we managed to beat our first opponents pretty quickly, which put us in the final showdown with the Redclaws team, just like we’d hoped. This fight though was going to be bloody, that much we knew. Up until now, we’d been wrestling, playing games or just pretending to fight with sticks rather than with actual weapons. But now, we were going to give it our all and we knew they’d do the same. Just like we’d heard about last year, their champion brought in a big demon thing to help him in the fight and did something with that tome he’s always carrying around, made it hover in the air and heal him when he needed it. A real problem, that was. I rushed the demon and started hitting it, though not as hard as it was hitting me. That thing was vicious, but of all of us, I was the one who could take that kind of beating without dying, you know? Unfortunately, the thing got distracted and threw me right over its shoulder to start attacking the cat! She did well enough, managed to bring it down with the help of the others, but she was hurting, you could tell.

Oak had circled around and was attacking Belnar for all he was worth and if it hadn’t been for that book, the fight would have been done right then and there. But instead he kept getting some jolt from it that kept him fighting. Unnatural, that is. Well, while we fought his lackeys, I decided we had to do something about that tome. I’d heard that touching it caused people to pass out and it was supposedly also indestructible, but maybe hitting it with my hammer wouldn’t knock me out but would disrupt whatever was fueling that red lizard. Turns out I was right on both counts, and very, very wrong in the end.

Sorry, I’m still wrapping my head around this next part, you see? Well, I hit it with my hammer and it stopped helping the champion, so that fight wrapped up pretty quickly. That’s when the king stood and pissed on the law and had his soldiers attack us and… well, I attacked the cat. I say I did it, but I didn’t really. It was my hammer that hit her, my arm that swung it, but not ME doing the swinging. You ever get a song stuck in your head and, no matter what you do, you can’t get it out? It was like that, only so much worse. It was a kid’s voice, a little girl, that just started giggling and taunting me inside and suddenly I was watching me run around and attack my own friends. I couldn’t stop it, stop myself, even when the king became that dragon and swooped down on us. I’m sure that the cat was still breathing after I hit her, but then the dragon finished her off and I can’t help but feel guilty for that. Maybe if I hadn’t attacked her, she could have used her magic to survive the dragon, but I did attack her and now she’s dead. Yeah, I know it wasn’t me, but whatever had slipped inside me when I contacted with that cursed book. Still, I was there and couldn’t stop it.

Fortunately, the girls were able to bring me down before I could kill anyone else and, I found out later that they were able to bring down the dragon too, though that was with help from some gunner that jumped into the arena. Belfran did something while I was out that drove out that little voice and I was myself again when they woke me up, but I was shook, you know? This whole trip had been us turning on ourselves and sadly, that’s how it was at the end as well. Now, about that drink you promised me…

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Of Demons and Dragons
Farin

In my many years of travel, this is the first time I’ve found myself in Drathl. It’s a shame I’ve never ventured into this strange country before, because I must say it’s vastly more interesting than anything the human kingdoms have to offer.

I came to watch the yearly competition between the Dragon-born clans that decides which Clan gets to rule. An interesting way to run a government, but their unique tradition seemed to have worked for the Dragon-born until about a year ago. According to the rumors I heard, last year the long reigning Moonscale Clan was dethroned because a demon had entered the contest. Given my line of work, and my ongoing research, I could not resist coming to see the contest this year, in the hopes that the demon would return for the finale.

I was not disappointed.

To be honest, I didn’t attend any of the Games leading up to the final fight. My sole interest in this whole journey was seeing the demon. Imagine my immense surprise when it turned out that the Redclaw Clan was facing, not another Clan, but a group of mercenaries hired by the fallen Champion of the Moonscales. The opposing team, named the Black Foxes were made up of Qelroth, the said fallen Champion, another Moonscale dragon-born, a human, a dwarf, a Taboxi, a half-elf and a wood elf. The ragtag group held their own well enough. They vanquished their Redclaw foes, including the famed demon I traveled to see.
Note that said demon was far greater than any I have encountered, and the group has earned my deep respect for their valor.

Unfortunately, the King of the Dragon-born was not ready to give up the thrown. As soon as his champions were defeated he ordered the guards to kill the Black Foxes. In that moment the crowd began to riot, claw against tooth, blood spilling blood. Before I knew it I was surrounded by enraged, brawling, bloody Dragon-borns. Nearly crushed by their massive flailing bodies as they clashed.

Suddenly, the King yelled “Enough!” His command silenced the brawlers, and the fighting ceased in time to watch the King himself transform. Before the eyes of his Kingdom he morphed into an enormous scarlet scaled dragon! The gall of the King knows no bounds if he believed showing his true self would help his case, even his fellow Redclaws were furious to realize that their King was the very creature that they despised.

The great bloody dragon flew down to kill the Black Foxes himself, and the brawling among the spectators resumed.

The Black Foxes were already bruised and bleeding from their fight with the Redclaw champions and the demon, and now they were forced to face a full-grown raging dragon. Right off I could tell they were in trouble, as their taboxi member and Qelroth were scorched by the dragon’s fire-breath. The cat did not make it, unfortunately.
Despite my better judgement, I entered the fray.
It wasn’t the smart thing to do. Honestly I’m not sure why I did it.

Fortunately for me, the Black Foxes were the focus of the great beast’s attention, and I managed to shoot the monster a few times with my musket before it turned on me. I suffered a pretty heavy blow from the creature’s claws, but the Black Foxes got it off me before I received too much damage. (Though I’ll be feeling my wounds for awhile) Outnumbered, and outmatched by the skill of the mercenaries, the dragon finally realized that he was fucked. He started to flee, taking to the skies in his attempt to escape. Hoping to get one last blow on the beast, as way of warning not to return to Drathl more than anything, I fired an arrow after him.

To my astonishment my arrow is what fell the great dragon. It struck him in the eye as he turned back to look. I watched as he plummeted from the air, down into the city beyond the Arena.

And now to my problem…Wyllo, the half-elf and leader of the Black Foxes, has offered a place in their ranks. While it has been awhile since I’ve had a real good job to do, I’m not overly fond of the idea of working for other mercenaries. Fenris seems to like Wyllo on the other hand. He usually doesn’t take well to strangers and like me, he’s not much of a team-player. It’s just been the two of us for a long time…

And then, there’s the other issue…. the wood-elf. As arrogant of any of his kind. Thank the Gods he was too busy being an ass to give me a good look. The first thing he did when he saw me was say “I didn’t know humans came in mutt.”
This was very amusing to me, on several levels. However, I’m worried that he may discover me if I decide to stay with the Black Foxes… I cannot tell what he would do if that were to happen.

This is one of those times I wish that I could speak, it’s hard to communicate with nothing but pantomime and note passing. I want to be able to trust Wyllo and her band of misfits, as I have previously stated, they have earned my respect for not only defeating a demon, but a dragon on top of it. The half-elf after-all, seems nice enough.

Ah, well, these problems won’t sort themselves out. I must contemplate carefully tonight before making any final decisions. I should have let the dragon eat the elf before jumping into the battle… that would have solves half of my problems…

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I prefer problems you can hit

Yeah, we were at each others’ throats for a bit there. Wyllo and Oak were going at each other, with some parts of suspicion and shady family pasts coming out and generally just confusing me. I growled at them enough that at least they will work together, something that I’m not used to doing. Not the growling part, no. I mean getting people to work together. We got ourselves patches so that we could identify ourselves as Black Foxes and that’s when it hit me again. I wasn’t just walking around with friends and punching things into submission, I was part of an organization with ranks, leaders and members. Didn’t sit well with me, still doesn’t, but maybe that’s what we need. We need some rules at least so we can work past this chaos that the Redclaws brought on top of us.

The competition? Yeah, it was going well enough I suppose. We managed to work ourselves into the final four, which I guess was more than a big thing since we were outsiders and hadn’t been expected to get that far. Qelroth was doing his fair share of the lifting though and was getting the recognition he’d need to get back into his clan if we pull this off. Belfran though was looking at things funny and insisting that we do what we can to turn things to our advantage. At the end of the day, that consisted of me and Oak sneaking out at night to smear the good name of the current king while the others managed to slip into the palace itself and somehow enter a shrine leading to their dragon god herself. Got themselves some talisman that should help against the Redclaws, but they almost lost their heads doing so, as they somehow blundered right into Belnar, the Redclaw champion. They only escaped alive because Yoon- Yoon of all people!- bluffed their way out of the whole thing.

Hearing about it, I had to admit he’s going to be a nasty opponent, but I think if we manage to pile on him, we’ll bring him down. Granted, that assumes that we get to them at the end of the competition and don’t rip each other to shreds before then.

Pass me another ale, this organized troop thing is starting to get to me.

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The Honor of the Dragonborn
Belfran

I firmly believe that if one engages in a competition, then one should abide by the rules of that competition. To disregard the rules is just as dishonerable as to not try one’s hardest. I would not associate with a dragonborn who participated in a contest dishonerably. You show respect to your opponent and to yourself by taking the game seriously.

My associates assure me that spying, assault, and even assasinations are a common and tollerated occurance at this tournament. (as long as they are suitably subtle, of course) To the point that The Underhand is just as permenant a fixture here as the Nightwing Clan. It’s clear that there is a long tradition of supterfuge, and it would be dishonerable for us to oppose the universally accepted, unwritten rules. Indeed, it behooves us to make use of every oportunity presented us by the format in which we are competing. We would be dishonering these procedings (and by extenstion, the entire kindom of Drathl) if we did not cheat.

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