Song of the Ages

Firenze
Wyllo

I’m over this.

How in the fuck do you fight a monster that can take control of your brain? I don’t think we would have made it very far if I didn’t have Firenze (you’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me, let’s be honest), but what happens after this? What are we even doing here?

P.S. I’m sorry for trying to slash with you so much, Firenze. I know you have a mind of your own and don’t always follow through, though. (I’m not dumb.)

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At the very bottom of everything
Dax

We met some drow living here in Shadowfell. They don’t seem to use money at all. It’s going to be a long time before we get a chance to earn back the money we lost opening that stupid door.

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Taste that? Not bad, is it?

So, the drow we rescued turned out to be from the Shadowfell and wanted to get back home. We originally were just going to follow him to the region where he said he’s seen things like in the scholar’s dreams, but… well, things went off the tracks.

I suppose it was no one’s fault really. We came across a tomb down there, looked to be a very old dwarven tomb too. Not Duergar though, I mean proper dwarven. Problem is someone had draped a bunch of standards and other kinds of flags all over the place. Those flags were all old by now too and what would you know but they were all marked with the Crusaders’ own sigil. Turns out those fools really did march into the Deep after they finished with the North Lands. Why? Well… I can’t rightly say. Regardless, it looks like they buried some of their own in the dwarf tombs, though I’ll give them credit- it didn’t look like they meant any disrespect with it, just was the best option down there. While this wasn’t exactly what the scholar had dreamed about, he was excited as this indicated that we were on the right path at least. We decided to look around the tomb and see if it could help us find the location of whatever it was we were down there for.

First off, we found the relatively fresh remains of another scholar-turned-explorer down there. It seems he was a human that was trying to find proof of where the Crusaders had gone so long ago. He found them, but seems like he had no way to get back to the surface after that and just died down there. While he was a fool to go down there alone in the first place, I will admit it is quite something that he found anything in the Deep, needless to say proof about the very thing he was looking for. Talk about needles and haystacks, right? He left us some notes though that indicated that he explored the tombs before he died and that there was a chamber locked with a very strange mechanism. He never found what was on the other side. I’ll get to that point in a moment though.

The second thing we found down there though is that some filthy little runts were looting the place, or at least trying. They seemed like they were scavenging and grave-robbing, and while I would have liked nothing more to have cut them down, the scholar actually stepped up and started talking to them. Turns out they were obeying some master who had taken up residence in the mechanism room, probably trying to get into the locked room. That did get under my skin, as anything vile enough to work with such creatures shouldn’t be desecrating one of our tombs, no sir. We marched right down to give it what for and… well…

It was a beholder.

Don’t believe me, do you? I mean, I had thought from time to time that the stories about those things must be made up, or greatly exaggerated. How could such a monster be, or at be so powerful as some would say? Well, for the first part, I don’t know how such a thing ever came to be. A mad wizard? A bored god? Who knows, but I cut off one of its stalks and have it right here, so you can see that that part is true at least… my, that is smelling quite rank… pay no mind to the bite marks on the end, I wanted to see what such a beast would taste like. As for the second part, you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Those things are as powerful as the stories say, if not more so.

When we opened the doors and found that thing waiting for us, I admit that my blood ran cold. I figured that some of us, if not all of us, wouldn’t get out of this alive and, well, I was partly right there. However, if they were going to have a chance, I knew I’d do more good in that things face than any of them. I ran in, screaming and swinging and making myself as much of a nuisance as I could. We fought, it raged, bolts of energy shooting out of its eyes and working its foul magic on as many of us as it could. Several of those hit me, blasting me with black, biting mist or locking up my very limbs so I couldn’t even move as it bit and swiped at me. Eventually it died though, a rapier through the main eye is as messy and final as it sounds, but it indeed was at a cost. The scholar had been turned into stone itself and our drow guide had a smoking hole in his chest. The rich woman was able to do something to the drow that brought him back, but as for the scholar… well, the drow said that there might be something or someone in his town that could help us restore him.

While the others worked on figuring out the locking mechanism for the inner tomb, I rigged a harness that I could use to carry our scholar-turned-statue on my back. Eventually, they got it open by feeding some gems into the mechanism. Inside were just a few tombs, but judging by the decorations, they had been important. One had this next to his grave and rather than let it eventually fall into the hands of something like that beholder, I brought it along. It just felt right, you know? Like it belongs in my hands. Makes me want to swing it a couple of times, just to feel the weight of it. Really, the maul’s a thing of beauty that I haven’t seen made by our race in a long time.

But enough about that. We finally agreed to follow the drow into the Shadowfell in hopes that they could reverse the stony nature of our friend. Perhaps it wasn’t needed, as that night a small construct waddled into camp and told us it was the scholar, re-embodied so that he could carry out his goddess’ wishes. At least, re-embodied until we could fix his normal body. The implications of what had just happened still nag at me, again the thought of being a puppet of some cosmic being, yadda yadda yadda, but I must say that the little thing was well built. Clever workmanship, you know? We still went into the Shadowfell and met with the drow’s village. One of them whipped up a concoction that might eventually free the scholar’s normal body, but while we waited in that town for a while, I got my hand on some of this. Try it, tastes like night and the dark parts of a cave, but not the bad dark parts. More like the peaceful dark parts. Fills your body with an almost sleepy glow, right? Might even be worth going back to the Shadowfell someday if just to get another flagon of the stuff.

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Otherwise, We'd Get Along
Wyllo

Met a drow. He’s not bad to look at. He also doesn’t wear a shirt, so the eye gets drawn in no matter what.

This is the only news I feel like sharing, except for the fact that we met this drow with a group of chained slaves. They came out from a carved door that said “Warning”. It might have said “Danger” or “Caution”; it all adds up to “Do not open door”, so we did not open the door and a group of bad dwarves—dark dwarves? It’s like how the drow are dark elves, but not, because I don’t think (all) drow are bad—and upon seeing this group of chained slaves, I guess our party’s good samaritan came out as a collective whole, because we rushed them and killed all of the guards. Ironically, there were two dark dwarves in the lineup of slaves, which prompted an argument about who (a pair of dwarves recently freed) got to kill them, and Fulgen said no. I’m pretty sure they’re dead anyway, because if it were me, I would have gone back and slit their throats after splitting ways, which we did. The ex slaves ended up going back toward the surface along with the two dwarves who’d wanted to kill the dark ones, and the drow ended up coming with us because he wanted to go back to Shadowfell.

He asked me about Yoon. I told him to mind his own business. (Actually, I told him that if he wanted to know anything about her, he should ask her.) Yoon said he asked about me. Let’s just say he’s not bad to look at. Very nice muscles. With those muscles though, he couldn’t get through this escape tunnel he helped us through, so I don’t know what to think about that. The tunnel led to a crypt, though. Samuel thinks we’re going the right way.

Really, though: why no shirt? What’s the problem with shirts?

I’m pretty sure Yoon’s going to give me a hard time about this, but oh well.

PS When we attacked those dark (corrupted?) dwarves, one raised his horn, and I’m assuming the fancy door would have opened and reinforcements would have arrived through the door we were not going to open, but I throat checked him with my Firenze.

PPS I admit, it was satisfying. Oops.

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Aye, we found ourselves right at the gates.

So, after killing of the Neothelid and trying to cook it, don’t look at me like that, you never know until you try it, we found another tunnel and followed it. Not much rhyme or reason in our search, but Samuel didn’t seem too worried about that. I guess he figured that his goddess would guide him, even without him actually knowing it. I have to wonder then if that means he believes she’s pulling his strings like some puppet and he has no real free will of his own, or if she will change the actual topography of the Deep so that regardless of which tunnel we went down, we’d reach our destination. Either way doesn’t sit well with me, because that means that he either is fine with being some cosmic being’s plaything or thinks himself so important that she would alter reality itself if he takes a wrong turn.

I can’t vouch for what’s in his head, but luckily I couldn’t dwell on it for more than a day or two as we soon found ourselves in a cavern with a worked stone bridge over an active lava flow and a set of great, stone doors with writing on them. I couldn’t make sense of the words, but some of the others could, enough to know that it was the front gate to a Duergar stronghold! I wanted to get out of there fast, as I didn’t want anything to do with the gray bastards, but as luck would have it… or the dusted scholar’s goddess willed it, the gates started opening right then. We quickly hid and found it was merely a small gang of Duergar leading a team of slaves out. A mixed lot, they were, some elves, dwarves, even some of their own kind were chained up. Regardless, we quickly decided to nab them and free the slaves. We were able to do so quietly too, so no reinforcements came out of the gates after us.

There was some business to deal with once we freed the slaves, as the dwarven brothers we freed wanted to personally kill the two Duergar slaves in their gang. They had quite the bone to pick with them, but Folgen got it in his head to try to protect the gray bastards. As if we weren’t just killed a crew of them moments before! Eventually we gave the slaves some supplies and directions, and they took the Duergar’s weapons and what armor they could use. Aye, I don’t like the thought of wearing a suit of that black ore, but it was what they had and apparently escorting the slaves back to Ironforge wasn’t in line with the goddess’ views, so off they went.

Well, all but one. A drow said he was going down to the Shadowfell but said he’d seen a cavern similar to Samuel’s dream before in his journeys. I didn’t much like travelling with him as he could say he was a decent fellow till he was blue in the face but still knife me in my sleep, so let’s just say I didn’t sleep much while he led us deeper in the Deep.

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In the Deep
Wyllo

Whenever I have a crisis of moral faith, Fulgen is always there. In this Deep, we have now stumbled across a vicious monster that decided it would be a good idea to eat me, and where I felt that thrill of killing the thing—it was different than killing Bradley; this thing was an actual monster of not human intelligence (I think.), Fulgen himself tends to show up lately every time I am busy killing. Is this some higher power reminding me that I joined on this quest because of that first time I met him and that insignia on his shield? I always thought I was Yoon’s moral compass and instead I’m finding myself losing my own. Enter Fulgen, stage right, left, diagonal—everywhere.

I want to go through my dilemma in peace, but I don’t think that’s happening anytime soon.

If I didn’t know any better, I would also say that our missions are getting progressively worse. As mentioned, I got eaten the other night. Yoon told me all about this, so I feel like I didn’t need to be unconscious through it all, but this monster found us in the Deep and I got hit hard and apparently, it ate me. Can we say trauma? Seriously.

The next thing I know though, we’re back in the cavern and Fulgen is also there (WAY TOO CLOSE I MIGHT ADD), and all I wanted was my rapier. Let’s just say I got even when I killed the thing. Let’s also just say I have more than a fear of fire at this point of my life.

There had better be some good loot down here because all I can think of, besides having almost been eaten by a thing, is that Fulgen came to help me. I joined this whole escapade and its haphazard group because of him and I give him a hard time, but I didn’t really think that in the face of life or death, it would turn out this way.

P.S. I know having a fear of fire is ironic since Firenze bursts into flames most of the time that I use him. Fears don’t have to make sense.

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Yes, I said a Neothelid.

Like I said, it was just a few Umber Hulks. No, if you want to buy me a drink, do it for the next part. I’ve only heard legends of this beastie and I bet only a scant few of the Guard have actually seen one, needless to say killed one.

So, after the Hulks we decided to rest up since, as far as we could tell, it was night or close enough to it. You and me, we grew up used to not having the lights in the sky telling us what to do, so it isn’t so bad when we lose that, but the others I was with seemed to be more than a little disturbed by the loss of that knowledge. Maybe if they spend enough time down here, they won’t worry about it at least, but I doubt they’ll ever get the Deep sense I’ve heard some Guard talk about. Regardless, after we rested and ate, we set out again. We eventually ran into a group of Guard celebrating with a bonfire no less! having just wiped out a mind-flayer colony. I’ve gotta raise my mug to that, I don’t care who you are. We shared some of their drink, but mostly asked about the region to see where their ‘lost’ encampment could be. As far as we could tell, it’d be in a part of the Deep that hasn’t been touched by you or me in a long while, so when the Guard indicated one tunnelway that was still largely uncharted, they immediately leaped on that and we set out.

Now, I’m not going to lie about this next part, but down that tunnel the floor gave out right underneath me. Me, a dwarf, and I didn’t notice that the stone ahead was bad. I wish I could say that I was distracted by the others and the noise they were making, but that’d still be no excuse. Lucky for me, the fall didn’t kill me or break any of my bones, though I was seeing stars. The others must have been more than a little worried as they started shouting down at me, making a racket that you just don’t make in the Deep even if your life depends on it. Turns out I’d fallen into a den of these strange, fuzzy beasties that wanted a piece of me, but between us all we were able to kill those creatures before they could make a meal of me. We decided to continue along the tunnels leading from the den, which is where this all gets good.

Out of that den, we entered a large chamber, probably half as tall as the main chamber here, and full of old dwarven buildings. Beautiful stonework, truly masterful and seemingly untouched by any of our kind for who knows how long. Completely worth falling through the floor, but the kicker is that there were a bunch of bodies strewn about, more mummified than decayed. Mind-flayers killed possibly centuries ago and just left in the streets. Probably one of our raids from long ago. We found evidence of where their elder brain was, good and smashed it was, but something wasn’t sitting right with me. There was a den of hungry beasties back there and a dry but plentiful buffet of meat just lying around here. Why hadn’t they picked the bodies clean long ago? It seemed more like they were avoiding the buildings and if there’s anything I’ve learned in the wilds, it’s that animals only act like that if they’re avoiding a bigger and badder animal.

Turns out I was right. There was an old, dried up fountain in one of the town’s squares that looked like it served as the flayers’ breeding pool, but no eel bodies in it, no sign that the pool was properly smashed either. I was examining it when a Neothelid came out and attacked us. I don’t know how long those things can live or even how fast they grow, but this one was big and feral. It had probably been in that cavern since that old raid, just eating the other eels and then moving on to bigger prey once the fountain got picked clean. It was a true monster at this point, even snatched up two of my mates and swallowed them up. No, don’t toast for them, they survived it.

Don’t look at me like that, they did.

I was too busy cutting at it and screaming at it to see much, but apparently as long as you’re not dead when it eats you, you can keep cutting it up on the inside, which is what they did. Made it vomit the two of them up right next to me, which was neither a pleasant sight or odor, but yeah, they were alive. We managed to bring that beastie down, but I was pretty sure that some, if not all of us, were dead. I like it when I’m wrong about stuff like that.

So yeah, like I said, if you’re going to buy me a round, buy it for that, not just for some Hulks.

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Fulgen's story about bugs

“There are far-off lands where bugs are smaller than people. In fact, in some of those lands there are so many small bugs that people catch them, gather them up, and deep fry them in oil so they can eat them. I would like to visit one of those places, someday.”

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Eye of the Beholder
Wyllo

It’s been a rough few weeks. We’ve moved on from Redford, leaving a small sort of chaos in our wake, but our next adventures have seemed a little aimless to me. There was a point where Fulgen told us that he didn’t want to stay with our party anymore, and I didn’t understand why—originally, I’d joined this quest (besides the potential for treasure) because he was…I don’t know. Good? I think that there are a lot of people who judge me by my appearance, but Fulgen didn’t seem to—at least, i thought not, until he said some things.

I don’t know what it was that made me ask him to stay, but I feel like our story isn’t done yet if he were to leave. I feel like if he’d chosen to leave, that strange emptiness wouldn’t have gone away (not that it really has actually), and that where I’d promised to adjust my moral compass for his sake, it might be keeping me from the dark I felt when I saw Bradley’s corpse.

We ended up following a trail and discovered a bit of the silver he’d been sending, but the storage shed we’d found it in also had a chest of gold. (You know how I get with gold, but Yoon is actually worse.) I was debating reaching out to take some when she helped herself and fell into this strange curse. She couldn’t be moved until we got creative about it, and even then we almost got caught. The next morning, she woke up fine, but she looked a little sick still—she was also very pouty—, and while I stayed to keep an eye on her, Dax and Fulgen went to talk to the stable-storage-person that Yoon and I had encountered the night before. I’m not sure what happened, but Dax came back with a couple of bolts sticking out of his chest. I’m assuming things hadn’t gone well, because we ended up being encouraged to leave town, Yoon lost the skull she’d found from that storage, and also a jar, and a new member of our party (goes by the name Samuel; I still don’t know what to think of him, but he doesn’t seem so bad) lost some gunpowder that he’d found.

Ironically, the fact that Samuel didn’t have gun powder on him helped us the other day. Dax had one of his moments where he didn’t have control of his magic and set certain things on fire. I’m not sure if it was fire so much as singing, but I got some good singes.

We also had another person join our party, and I have mixed feelings about this one, too. (I think I have mixed feelings about all of them, if I’m being honest, but oh well.) Her name is Kels and she likes war, but she’s also rich and I’m a little jealous of that. What would it be like to be rich? She also has a thing for Fulgen, which is…strange. I’m not a fan.

I killed a thing by the way. There was also a salamander thing, and we also saw Anya and Qelroth. I have a kinship with Anya that I don’t think I’ve mentioned before. She’s a half elf like me, and somewhere along the way, I met her wonderful father (stepfather? I’m not sure.). He treats her not well, and he also treats Fulgen not well. Needless to say, I’ve warmed up to them. It’s just a little bit, no big deal.

Fulgen got kidnapped a while ago. We helped save him and lost our chance at a good payout because his dad is an ass. I want money. I’m tired of being the thief that people don’t respect. Kill a couple of dangerous creatures to save others (or set free kidnapped children) and people still look at you like you’re a street rat

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Yeah, he got us to go into the Deep because of his dreams

I know, I know, those must be some pretty impressive dreams, but I"ll be honest with you, I’d been itching for a good fight for a while so when they started talking about it… well, I didn’t put up much of a fight. Who knows? We might even get lucky and do some good while we’re down there, thinning the ranks of the monsters that are always knocking on our doors.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I blame the ale. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to relax with a good pint of dwarven ale and while it’s not the most potent thing I’ve ever had, this just tastes right. Sort of tastes like home. Mind you, I’m not going to go soft and go back to my old life, pounding on iron so that someone else can go and get themselves killed with it or, worse yet, get themselves killed with it at the orders of some fool noble. I’ve missed the heat of the caves, the thrumming of the mechanics, but what I didn’t miss is just how… well, rigid, everything is. You take orders from him, and he takes orders from someone else and so on until finally we reach some king somewhere. You and I would like to believe that that king has all the knowledge and wisdom in the world, that everything that trickles down to us is part of the greater good, but I’ll be honest with you. In all my travels, I’ve met nobles from many different countries and they’re just like you and me, maybe even worse. Nah, it’s all madness to base your very life on the whims of nobles.

Where was I? Oh, yeah. The others left me to watch over their horses and the dust-ridden magician’s cart while they ran off to get Folgen back. I didn’t want to be left out of any fight, but well… the tavern had a good stock, you know? So, I guess it wasn’t a complete loss staying behind. I got to meet a pair of dwarven merchants that could give as well as they could take, which is as good a compliment as I can give and we got to talking. Reminiscing, boasting, some friendly brawling, you know the drill. When the others came back with our minstrel in tow, I had been able to catch up on much of the kingdom’s gossip and then some. There was some confusion as to what we should do next, but most of them were talking about Sutherland, so I urged them to head north until we came up with a better idea. In retrospect, maybe I should have held them to that original plan instead of being so lax with them.

So, we fought some salamanders on the road, nothing that we couldn’t handle though the magician toasted us along with the creatures for some reason. Nothing we couldn’t handle, but he continues to strike me as very unstable. And this is me saying it, so you can imagine what I mean when I say unstable. Anyway, we got to Sveldheim and, before we continued on to Sutherland, Samuel told the others that he’d dreamed that we should go into the Deep to recover something. I know these surfacers put a lot into their gods and dreams, but surely they’ve at least heard of the Deep before, right? Turns out, they treat those stories of the Deep how we treat their stories of the gods and were convinced that they’d be fine. I know, right? Insulting, it is, but I was aching for a fight and were better to cut loose than down below? Who knows? We might actually survive this.

We traveled under the mountains until we reached Ironforge in all its glory and while part of me wanted to stick around and soak in the dwarven ‘culture’ I’d been missing for so long, we started down. We got supplies, probably not enough, some information and away we went. Almost got killed right out the gate though, as some Umber Hulks burrowed right into us on day one. I told the lot not to look the beasts in the eyes, but you’d think I hadn’t for how often they panicked and ran. Still, we were able to beat the creatures back, so that’s a few less Hulks for the rest of you to deal with, right? It did sober up the others in the group though, as they were beginning to see how much this could be more than they anticipated.

What’s this? A pint for me? Well, if you insist, but it was just a few Hulks.

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