Song of the Ages

Overthrowing a kingdom again

So we’d rounded up some new members, right? Well, it turned out to be just in time since some armored lizard that the girls knew came around and told us quite the story about his kingdom. Long story short, he wanted to hire us to win some ritual competition so that the leadership of his kingdom would change hands. Now, I know I hated being part of that very same thing in Sutherland, but that was because someone basically stabbed us in the back to accomplish that. This time, at least the lizard was being up front about it and the current leaders sounded bad enough that they should be outed. So we took the job.

We made good time, travelling through Dunkuldir to try to catch a boat. While on the way I caught up with some of my friends and family that I hadn’t seen in… well, it almost feels like forever. At least not since I marched out with the army. It was good to see them, but I could tell I didn’t fit in there anymore. I needed to vent, to howl and break things, and in the steamwork-lined caves of my home, that would certainly not work. I guess I’m just not tame enough, you know what I mean? I hope you do, because I’m still wrapping my head around it, but enough of that line of thought.

There was a little bit of panic as we traveled since we found out that there was a delegation from the lizards at the palace, but ultimately there was little we could do about that except move forward with our plan and just remove the scalies from power. Not to say there wasn’t drama with the others, mind you, but I just ignored it and carried on. We managed to catch a boat to Drathl in time for the festival. Now we just have to go up against the best that the other lizards can put forward and even stay a step or two ahead of whatever tricks the leaders have in store for us. Stone, I miss having Fulgin around to worry about that instead of me.

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Reentry
Wyllo

So…Qelroth Delmirev is back, and he’s returned with a proposition.

We have to win a tournament with him in an effort to get his honor back. I think. This is all very strange because I’m not used to speaking for others, and somehow, I suddenly have people to look after.

Is this what Scratch was talking about a few weeks ago? Something about being nurturing—if only he could see me now. (I’m not nurturing.)

I don’t mind going an an adventure, though. I guess. What’s the likelihood of us dying?

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Friendship is Overrated

Hello Journal,

It has been a while, not that I have missed doing this in the slightest. What has happened to our little band of misfits? We collected even more outcasts and useless individuals. You may think I am being harsh, but I am not. All of these people would die on their own if we did not take them in.

Now that we have officially taken my name off of the “kill” list, I have so much free time on my hands. What will I do? I guess I could find hobbies which do not require skills in fighting, stabbing, or killing.

I could…

Yeah, I could be a school teacher or something.

A school teacher whose subject is about the death and bringing people closer to it.

Yeah, I like it. This sounds like a great start.

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New blood

So where was I?

Right; lost a bunch of us, didn’t we? Dead or gone, in the end doesn’t matter to me cause they aren’t around when we need them. You know, it’s funny. I used to see Dax walk around a give orders to the people building the inn, doling out gold left and right, but when I had to start doing the same thing, I really missed that horned bastard. I might not be dumb, but I just don’t have a head for this type of thing, managing money beyond what I need for drink and sleep. I think if Walter ever decides to leave, I’ll break his legs just so I don’t have to do more than I’m already doing. And when Fulgen was around, talking about heroes from other stories, I didn’t think more about it than to ask for the bloodiest tales he knew. Now… well, it’s not just me, but some of us at least seem to be considering what our own stories will be.

And I wasn’t ready for the story of the Black Foxes to be done yet.

We started recruiting, maybe not intentionally at first, but that’s what we ended up doing. Some odd elf comes to the fort, asking to join and the next thing I know we’re on our way to kill some plants to see if he and the dragonborn we were supposed to be watching could hold their own in a fight. The plants were new to me, I’ll say that for sure. Have you ever been eaten alive by a compost pile? Well, I have now. Returned the favor once the battle died down, thinking there might be some meat in there somewhere or that it’d be a pile of some new plant that might actually make good eating. It was good eating, but no new plants that I could spot, just normal plants that somehow decided it would be a good idea to eat local farmers.

Where was I? Oh, right. Recruiting.

So, we went to fight these plants for a reward and at first, we mostly stayed back to see what these new recruits could do. Elf was a decent shot and a better brawler and the lizard seemed to have a few good spells while still wearing a suit of armor, but turns out one of the field hands watching also had some decent magic in her. We took care of the plants, then brought all three back to the fort as new members of the Black Foxes.

Let’s see what stories we’ll be able to tell you now.

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On The Road

“What do you mean you don’t have any money?”

The short elf shrugged and tied back his copper hair. “I mean just that.”

“Fine, give me your weapons and start walking. I can see you’ve got a sword in there.”

“You sure?” The elf slowly pulled the cloth-wrapped bundle from his back. “I’ve got a nice sketch of the mountains that might fetch a few silver. Oh, and some venison jerky. You can’t eat a sword, you know.”

“Don’t tell me what I can and can’t eat. Put it down, now!”

The elf looked at the two other men who had their bows drawn. “Your form is terrible.” He gestured to the one on the right as he slid a bow out of the bundle and strung it. “Don’t lock your arms, they’ll fall asleep if you go another minute like that.”

“Oi! Stop that right now! Put those weapons down!”

“Boss, ain’t elves supposed to be good archers?”

“Right. Yeah, I’ll shoot you right now if you touch those arrows.”

“Alright.” The elf slowly moved the bow with his other hand held flat. “I wrapped the quiver too tightly anyways, if you shot me it would save me the bother of getting any arrows out.”

“Hear that, boss? He wants me to shoot him!”

“Should I shoot him?”

SHUT UP YOU TWO! I KNOW HE WANTS YOU TO SHOOT HIM, IT’S SOME KIND OF-”

The man was interrupted. The trembling outlaw to his side shook his hand and swore, then gasped as he realized it was his own arrow that had silenced his boss

The elf pointed at the archer who had accidentally loosed an arrow, then to the man twitching on the ground to his side with an arrow in his throat. “See? First time shooting a man, huh? At least you nearly hit me.”

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You see? Politics can turn a man's stomach, no question.

Right, so we’d come back from Eastport to check on our little pile of rubble that we like to call a fort. Most of the people we’d left working were still working, so Dax patted them on the back and gave them additional orders. I’m just looking forward to when the inn is done so I can see if we can find a decent brewmaster or if we will have to import all of our drink like some savage. We knew we’d have to finish off the Viscount soon, as he was surely aware that his wife had been killed in Eastport. We also assumed that he’d be able to figure out that we’d done it, but the question was how he’d respond. Would he send more of his assassins to kill us or would he make up some lie and send his new ‘legitimate’ troops after us instead?

How’d he get troops? Didn’t I tell you? Nah, I guess I didn’t. The old steward of Sutherland had recently died under very mysterious circumstances and who should be the one to take his place but the Viscount himself! It probably smelled fishy to anyone who didn’t even know that he was the leader of a cult of assassins or even a vampire patriarch, but being that we knew about both, it was obvious that this new role was no coincidence. Granted, he shouldn’t have absolute power over the kingdom as just the steward, but let’s be honest. He wouldn’t go through all that effort to make himself steward to just sit around with only half a kingdom. We knew that he’d have something in mind for his counterpart, the Grand Marshal.

So, we’re waiting for the Viscount-turned-Steward to make his move, yeah? While we’re doing that, the drow girl who’d been helping us, Veshaya was her name, her daughter shows up and begs us to take her with us to kill the Viscount. Turns out the Viscount had really messed up their family and they both wanted vengeance. The others hemmed and hahhed about this, but I wasn’t about to get in the way of that. People have called me petty from time to time for it, but I know a thing or two about vengeance and I wasn’t about to hold them to a different standard than I held myself. So, we told her she’d come.

Well, we soon got a summons to come ‘meet with’ the Steward. All very normal and non-threatening on the surface, you know? Couldn’t fool us though. We knew it was a lure or trap or something, so we decided to get crafty about it. Not that being crafty has really worked out for me, but we thought we’d try it. Fulgen handed me his weapons and walked into town, stating that he and he alone had come to answer the summons. The rest of us slipped into town and then into the keep itself, fully armed and ready for a fight. Turns out a fight is exactly what we got. Fulgen met with the Steward in the main hall and eventually shouted out something, letting us know to come storming in. The Steward was there, fully armed and armored, sitting on the throne like he owned the place. The Grand Marshal was there too, but was fighting for the Steward like he was some long-time friend.

Like I said, the Viscount hadn’t settled for just part of absolute power.

So, I went in swinging and hollering like mad, trying to keep the enemies’ attention focused on me. I’ll be the first to say that I’m not as good as Wyllo or Yoon at finding the best place to stab something, but what I can do better than anyone else in the group is take a hit. However, even though I took up most of the Steward’s attention, Veshaya still died. The Grand Marshal too, though I’m still torn on that. The drow girl was a good ally and I mourn her loss. The Grand Marshal might have just been under the vampire’s control and not a willing pawn in all this, but at the end of the day he raised his blade against me and mine, so I don’t mind as much when Yoon killed him. We did however manage to kill the Steward, and I mean proper kill him, since he’s a vampire and you have to make sure you do it right or he’d just come back.

That was about the time the guards came in and told us to surrender. At first we tried to explain, just like in Eastport, that the Steward had been a vampire, yadda yadda yadda. They still wanted us to surrender. I guess we could have ran, like we’d done after killing the Countess, and just leave them to figure it all out, but I was tired by that point. All this running, all of this fighting to save people who were ready to attack us… I was done. I just wanted to sleep, so when the others surrendered, I did so as well. Granted, Fulgen put up a hell of a fight before he gave in, arguing that he could bring the Grand Marshal back and that we should be hailed as heroes for the bloody mess we’d just made of the keep. I think he’d been hoping that the Grand Marshal wouldn’t just survive that mess, but would have been able to hold things together enough to get a decent Steward this time around.

Instead we got used. That’s the only way I can describe it. Eoth, a priest we’d come across from time to time, convinced us to surrender, then eventually convinced Folgen to not try bringing back the Grand Marshal. Turns out Eoth had positioned himself to become the next Grand Marshal and thought he could do a better job of it. All we had to do was just go back to the fort. Fulgen must have hated this deal, must have hated it fiercely. He stuck around enough for us to try to bring back Veshaya, but then he just left. Went away with hardly any word of explanation to any of us. As for trying to bring Veshaya back, they cast their spell, spoke with her spirit and got turned down. She told them simply that since the Viscount was dead, her vengeance was done. I guess that was all she had to live for and now that it had happened, death was what she wanted. She stayed wherever she ended up and we took in her daughter, letting her stay at the fort and grieve.

So, Fulgen had walked off on us. That hurt. I knew we didn’t always fit with the brave and noble adventurers he often talked about, but at least we tried more when he was around. To top this whole thing off, Dax announced he’d leave us too. Just decided to head back to Cana and live the rest of his life as a book-keeper. Granted, I think a certain letter from a certain woman he’d met there was what really swayed him, but it still stung. At least he left us most of his coffers so we could continue working on the keep, but now I’m left wondering what for, you know? Where do we go from here? We had a book that a god had sent us after, but what were we supposed to do with that? We had a fort that we were rebuilding, but what were we supposed to do with that? For the first time in a while, I felt lost.

The next time we try to save a kingdom from itself, I might just tell it to go shove it. Lost three friends from it and all we got out of it was being the unwitting pawns of some power-grabbing cleric. Bah! Lords and rulers, who needs them?

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Intermission
Wyllo

So it’s done.

How did that happen?

It’s been a while, but during the few weeks that I’ve kept my silence, we killed Seethe. It’s very strange, sitting here without a motive and just…waiting.

Vashaya is dead. I’m angry with her because we went into the spirit world (or whatever it’s called) to bring her soul back, but she didn’t return with us. We went to save her, because there has to be more to this life than tragedy and vengeance; but she found her vengeance and then her peace. It’s not fair. That’s not the life we’re supposed to live.

She has a daughter.

She wouldn’t come back for her daughter.

I think I’ve stomped down my memories of family (mother) enough that I forget I had one at some point. I forget that there was anything outside the Thieves Guild, that I had a parent before Scratch became one for me. I still don’t know why he did it, but it’s just who he was. Is. He saved my ass at one point during our battle. Did I tell you we had to fight a hydra? We killed it. We fought a vampire thing that knew Yoon. Killed that one even though it took two tries. We fought a countess. Killed her. (So much killing.)

It all led to getting to Seethe, and then that was it. The end. Fulgen left us. Dax left us, but he was on happier terms, I think, since Nameia wrote him a love letter asking him to come back…to be the financial advisor of that Baron we instated. But. We’re free. Well. I’ve been free for a while. Yoon is free.

I don’t really feel any differently about anything. I think I have more of a conscious. I think that our friends leaving after we’d finally made friends was a little sharp on the tongue. But there’s nothing left here except for Fort Dax. I guess we’re not the Black Foxes anymore. Band of Black Foxes? Whatever.

I might stay for a while. A Dragonborn came to our Keep, and he shares the same clan as Qelroth did, but this one didn’t think very highly of Qelroth. I wonder if they actually knew each other. I think I’ll spy on him for a while; he was held in prison at the same time we were—oh, yea. We detained for a few hours because we killed the captain of the guard…or someone that’s the equivalent of the captain of the guard. I think that’s why Fulgen left. It was either that or because Vashaya didn’t come back with us when we went to find her spirit, but I don’t think he would have taken that as personally as this guy’s death. It’s like when I killed Bradley…still not an accident, by the way…and he questioned our morality. I’m not one for morality. I fight for the things I need to survive.

Basically: we fought Seethe and two vampire thingies and the captain. We killed all of them, went to prison, they killed Vashaya, she didn’t come back with us when we went to search for her soul, and now I’m a little traumatized because it’s not fair that a mother left her kid. Her kid came to find us, after all.

Nobody likes being left behind.

I didn’t get to say goodbye to Scratch—not the way I wanted to. Do you think he knows what I wanted to say?

Maybe I should talk to Firenze. If Yoon is free, do I really have anything to fight for now? I don’t want to risk my fire going out again. (That happened in the middle of battle. Thanks, Firenze.)

This is all a mess .I’m tired. I live in a fort.

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Another Chapter
Dax

I tried my hardest. I really did. Adventuring is just not for me. I wanted to be a good mercenary, but I am a danger to myself and those around me. Not only did I attract the attention of Seethe, but on three separate occasions, I nearly blew up the party. I will go to Redford. I will stay inside. I will keep the books of an organization that doesn’t need to kill things to stay solvent.

It will be nice to see Nameia again.

I’m leaving the Dice of Abinidoth at the keep. These people will need protection from scrying more than I will.

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And that was the easy part

So, we’d gotten into the manor’s cellar and rested up enough that we were ready to continue on. As soon as we came onto the main floor, we were met with one of the vampires we’d killed before… well, killed in the sense that we drove him off to his coffin, but didn’t finish him off at the time. He was flanked by a pair of nervous and apparently clueless guardsmen. We started laying into the creature, but when the guardsmen started shooting at us, I drove them off with a bellow and more than a little bit of spittle. They might have been attacking us, but honestly they were just doing their job. It’s not their fault that they don’t realize that said job involves protecting a bunch of vampires. Either way, it was good they ran off, since that freed us up to deal with the vampire.

Most vampires I’ve dealt with before were just spawn, whelps compared to what we were dealing with now. Those beasties are mean, but not too tricky or bright. This one though kept dancing around the room, slipping between us and causing more than a little worry as to whether we’d get him. However, we soon forced him to change to mist and that day I learned something- mist can burn. I know that campfires can drive back a fog, but that’s just that- driving it back. This was good and proper burning, so I’m pretty sure that vampire won’t be an issue ever again.

We then charged up to the ballroom, where we met the Countess. She acted like she’d been expecting us, which I guess isn’t a surprise since we’d been making all that racket just moments earlier. However, if I were her, I would have either fled or gotten some help, as we came after her with a vengeance. True, the fact that she was a spellcaster on top of being a vampire made her especially dangerous, but fortunately we all came out alive in the end. Expect for the Countess though, she didn’t. She misted up and fled, and we followed. Big did have to take a wall down so we could find her coffin, but we got her in the end.

Leaving was a little trickier. The guardsmen were now fully aware that we were inside the manor and confronted us, demanding our surrender. They wouldn’t even listen to how the Countess had been a vampire, so instead we fled back into the cellars and tunnels below to let them figure out the truth for themselves. We did look into that cellar full of zombies though before we left. Turns out they had broken into a tunnel leading to a local and thankfully abandoned mine, which was very bad news. However, I guess they were sloppily made, so most had fallen apart by the time we caught up with them, which was very good news. I didn’t want to spend days searching the tunnels for a stray zombie, not while the Viscount- excuse me, Steward- could start hunting us down at any time. I prefer to do the hunting, thank you very much.

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Wyllo...
Scratch's Journal

Where on Messen did I go wrong? I’ve had dozens of children go through my bunkhouse over the years, and I can’t honestly tell you why I grew so attached to Wyllo. I always tried to be impartial, just providing shelter and some direction to the kids that stayed at the bunkhouse. But things were different with Wyllo. Even Big became attached to her in a way the surprised me. Even after she left the bunkhouse I kept in touch, kept tabs on her, and I put everything at risk when she filed Crichton’s job.

And now, rather then lay low, keep from drawing the attention of groups like the Underhand Wyllo decides to waltz right into the lions den and go after Seethe himself… After I heard that there was no way I was sitting on my ass and letting her get herself kill. By the seven, when did she become so reckless. It’s likely Yoon’s fault, though I might be blaming Yoon unfairly…

But as I’ve been on this suicide mission in Eastport, I’ve come to realize something. Wyllo is doing better than I could have imagined. These mercenaries she’s become a part of are like a severely dysfunctional family, and it feels like Wyllo has finally found a place where she belongs. Yeah, they are a bunch of idiots sometimes, but she’s in good hands.

I never had children, but I wonder if this is what a father feels like when they see their children come into their own. This fight isn’t over, but I think my part it in has to be. I have to get back to the bunkhouse, and it turns out Wyllo is doing just fine.

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