Campaign of the Month: April 2019

First Blight

Episode #120
A Magistra's Fury

08.04.841 TE – Jainen
Revas, Rhea, Sargis, Valeria

Red Lyrium Behemoth

JAINEN

Sunday, 08.04.841 TE
Day

The group quietly discusses their options, with Rhea and Valeria rather convinced that killing the guards at the door would be the safest option, while Revas firmly tells them that he wants to go north.

“We can’t just ignore them,” Rhea says. “They’ll be at our backs.”

Sargis shrugs. “We can take them.” He does a little stabbing motion and leans against the nearby wall while the women and Revas bicker.

Trying to explain himself without knowing what exactly is happening to Hope is hard, Revas finds. He stays quiet for a moment and lets Rhea’s arguments wash over him. Valeria, as usual pretty observant when it comes to her companions’ emotions, realises that there is something Revas will not say. “Why do you want to go north so badly?”

“There’s something there,” Revas says vaguely. “I feel like I need to go there.”

Valeria takes a moment to digest this, while Rhea is already worried and peppering Revas with questions as to how he knows and what exactly it is that he is feeling.

“Let’s go north, then,” Valeria says, taking a step towards the double doors, Sargis already next to her, ready to go. Hesitantly, and a concerned look on her face, Rhea follows, with Revas all but rushing towards the door.

To the south, the banging only gets louder. A monstrous roar can be heard from behind the door, and one of the guards holding it takes a surprised step back, clearly afraid. The man next to him pulls him back towards the door while yelling at him in Tevene.

Sargis pushes open the double doors and reveals an opulent throne room. Six pillars reinforce the ceiling of this room, which is filled with a gentle light, giving it an almost ethereal glow. A massive red lyrium infested being stands at the centre of the room, blocking their view onto Magistra Lutatia. The lyrium growth on its body is so immense that it can hardly be called human anymore: massive crystals sprout from its shoulders, arms, and legs, and one of its hands has morphed into a claw of frightening dimensions.

Moments after the group has entered the room, Magistra Lutatia shows up behind the red lyrium behemoth, looking down at the gang from a dais at the back of the room. In this light, the Heartbreaker Gang can make out the details of her appearance for the first time. The magistra’s hair is of a silvery blonde, elegantly framing her face while complimenting the bright magenta of her eyes.

Dressed in an expensive looking black robe, Magistra Lutatia almost looks like the spitting image of what one might consider an evil magister, Sargis thinks to himself. He might have said something to that extent out loud, but he really cannot be sure at this point. The magistra’s multi-layered robe is lined with bright golden seams and stitchings, some of them so detailed they could almost be drawings. It almost looks like this outfit was chosen to go with the staff Magistra Lutatia is wielding, ivory-coloured and decorated with golden carvings, the top of it covered by a delicate looking rose formed out of gold.

Next to the magistra stands a mirror with a beautifully carved frame. It is large, taller than most men, and the surface of it is glowing gently, emitting a blue light so bright it is almost entirely white, though several cracks can be seen, even from afar.

Hiding between pillars and red lyrium clusters are more of the already uncomfortably familiar corrupted beings the group has fought previously, their sharp claws at the ready as they quietly slip from one place to the next in a weirdly fidgety manner.

“You will not defeat me,” Magistra Lutatia says, her voice firm. “My behemoth will keep you at bay and crush you to death.” There is clearly more the magistra wants to say, but the heroes do not give her the time, instead, they launch an attack at the enemies closest to them. Blades strike corrupted skin, metal strikes metal, arrows fly towards their targets, and in the midst of it all, Magistra Lutatia’s icy spells fill the throne room with an uncomfortable chill.

Sargis does his best to take the behemoth’s strong blows in his companions’ stead, and while the Shield of the Lion is as sturdy as they come, he feels the blows reverberate inside his body and almost rattling his bones. A well-timed use of his shield—or Roary, as he calls it—sends several of the corrupted beings surrounding the group to the ground and disorients them long enough for the Heartbreakers to rally again.

Nearby, but too far away to benefit from Sargis’ protection, Valeria is fighting her own little battle. Just moments ago, Magistra Lutatia cast a virulent walking bomb on Valeria, who is now swaying slightly, fending off the blows coming her way with a pained expression and heavy arms. The blood inside of her feels like it is boiling, the blood vessels full to bursting and seemingly about to explode. It is all Valeria can do to stay focused on the task at hand and defy the magistra until her last breath.

Revas, as usual slightly in a bind because of the limited amount of free spaces he can move to, quickly finds out that staying near the red lyrium opponents attacking him with their sharp crystal growths is not a good idea. Deep cuts penetrate his leather armour and leave painful gashes in his skin.

A glance around the battlefield leaves Valeria in more of a panic as she tries to push back a red lyrium warrior whose crystalised arm scrapes across the metal of her sword with an ear piercing screech. With a quick shove and an awkward backpedal she rushes to Revas’ aid and slashes at the nearest red lyrium warrior to gain their ire and give Revas a chance to escape to a safe distance. Despite the bleeding, the haggard breathing, blinking away the sweat and the blood, the avvar warrior refuses to back down when another’s life is on the line, even if it’s to her own detriment at times.

Finally, Sargis strikes the killing blow on the behemoth, sinking his sword Aamor Fin deep into a portion of flesh that isn’t covered by red lyrium growths. The behemoth’s heavy body strikes the ground with a loud reverberating ring, and plenty of crystal shards break off and fly across the stone floor, creating a wave of tinkling sounds. Almost in slow-motion Sargis watches the little pieces cover the floor, and just when he is about to point out his kill with pride, he notices that the shards on the floor are bouncing up and down, up and down. He furrows his brow and looks around to see whether anyone else notices it, but Valeria is fending off two of the smaller red lyrium beings, and Revas is hiding behind Rhea, who’s striking at the magistra futilely, her sword kept at bay by a barrier of sorts.

Still somewhat flummoxed, Sargis is about to attack the nearest corrupted being, when the door to the south opens and a creature of massive proportions enters the room, almost ripping one side of the door off the hinges. The thing is about as ugly as they come, Sargis thinks when he recognises the typical traits of a giant, but covered and corrupted by red lyrium. Red crystals sprout from its shoulders and arms, and a couple smaller ones are sticking out of its ribs, making it look like its organs are growing on the outside. Sargis looks up at the at least six yard tall being and doesn’t think about it for very long before he charges towards the giant, shield at the ready.

The giant’s arrival has also caught the other heartbreakers’ attention. Both Rhea and Revas look back towards the door, their eyes going wide when they see the red lyrium corrupted being. The distraction allows Magistra Lutatia to get a safe distance away from them and conjure a blizzard where they are standing, surrounding them with howling winds so cold they penetrate any exposed skin in mere seconds. Vision is limited in this icy hellscape, and it takes the two members of the Heartbreaker Gang a moment to orient themselves again.

Feeling the telltale signs of heavy footfalls, Valeria looks up briefly to see the same red lyrium giant as it gets closer and closer, eyes unfocused but fury palpable. She tightens her grip on Ashrune to stop the shaking she feels start in her hands as a sense of dread washes over her. The battle is nowhere near won just yet, but this colossal being making its way in makes the task seem that much more uncertain as blood drips onto the floor and the pain from battle radiates through Valeria’s mind and body. Still, she refuses to go down without a fight, and tries to throw herself more into the fight at hand rather than focus on the details of this terrifying scenario.

Together, the heartbreakers do their best to take down the giant, whose blows decimate anything that comes into its path. The Shield of the Lion is dented, Sargis knows, but he trusts his shield completely, and so takes several of the giant’s blows that are meant for those next to him. The impact leaves him shaky every time, but knowing that just one forceful blow from the red lyrium giant would likely down someone like Revas fills Sargis with determination. One well-placed stab after the other seems to slowly exhaust the giant. A cluster of Revas’ arrows is stuck in the giant’s neck, and deep gashes cover the giant’s legs where Valeria’s sword has found soft flesh, but the beast is still very much standing, not a wobble in sight. Realising that this is a fight of attrition, Sargis positions himself opposite Valeria, and they attack the giant from two sides, while Revas peppers its neck with one arrow after the other.

At the other end of the throne room, Rhea is keeping Magistra Lutatia busy, which is a painful endeavour that sends her flying more than once. By this point she has landed on her ass more times than she cares to admit, and it does not help her general disdain for the woman in front of her. At least she knows that the magistra is close to desperate at this point. Her spells are still frequent, but more and more Magistra Lutatia relies on defensive ones, which leads Rhea to assume that she is either running out of mana or energy.

When the red lyrium giant starts to wobble, Valeria calls out Sargis as the shield warrior takes a step towards it. She asks if he has it but there’s little reply other than a grim smirk from Sargis as he surges forward to take it on. Nodding to herself, Valeria turns her focus elsewhere as the battle continues to rage and blood mixes with shards of crystal on the dark stone floor. The flash of ice and pale green magic catches her eye while surveying the battlefield with tunnel vision. She races up the platform, joining Rhea in the fight against Magistra Lutatia as she tries to ensure the magistra’s capture for Lady Affraic and for justice for those harmed by this cruel mage’s heinous acts while in power.

Finally, just as Revas shoots two arrows at the giant’s eye in quick succession, Sargis spots the signs of a wobble he has been waiting for. A stab, a slash, and the giant falls to its knees, just barely keeping itself upright with a massive fist. Now its throat is just close enough to vertically-challenged Sargis so he can sink Aamor Fin deep into it, bathing himself in blood. A wave of euphoria washes over him as he watches the light leave the giant’s eyes, and he looks over at Revas and gives him a thumbs up.

“That’s a fight worth mentioning,” Sargis laughs as he rushes past Revas and towards Rhea and Valeria, who have the magistra cornered.

After dodging and mentally resisting Magistra Lutatia’s spells for most of the fight, Rhea finally makes it close enough to the angry mage to knock her out with a well-placed pommel strike—a decision not easily made, as Rhea would have rather struck the woman down permanently to remove the threat once and for all.

Work to check over Magistra Lutatia begins with haste as the gang worriedly checks her over for any items or materials that might end up providing a speedy escape for her despite her unconsciousness, but after finding what few items she has there’s a moment of silence as the room finally calms and they gather themselves for a moment. Valeria and Rhea look to one another, both on opposite sides of the crime and punishment of Magistra Lutatia. Rhea, frustrated and angry at the vile and cruel portrayal of her people at the hands of this mad magistra, wishes to see her executed there and then. Valeria on the other hand, bound by the ties of responsibility and fealty to Lady Affraic, knows that the chain of command requires her to speak to her first before attempting to pass judgment on her and her crimes. They eye each other, trying to will the other to see their way of thinking, but eventually they look away and focus on their tasks as they angrily deal with their thoughts on the situation and that most of it is out of their hands at this point.

Annoyed and somewhat angry because the magistra is still alive, Rhea takes a few moments to herself, wandering around the large throne room, and avoiding the red lyrium formations blocking her path at every step. Both Sargis and Valeria clean their weapons and quietly discuss their options, while Revas is standing nearby, completely focused on the eluvian.

A soft sigh, just short of a sob, echoes in Revas’ chest. Not one of his own, not a sorrow that clings to his heart and soul, but to that of his often quiet companion Hope. Their connection is a metaphysical entanglement of soul and spirit, a connection that has kept Revas alive and moving through the many obstacles life has thrown at him since his escape from the besieged Jader. The feeling beating through Revas’ chest is another reminder of their bond, one forged through not the best of circumstances but one that led to moments of power, happiness, and even Hope’s namesake.

This feeling persists as Revas approaches the eluvian, seeing himself past the myriad of cracks that mar the mirrored surface. In this moment, as he faces himself in the reflection, he notes the cuts and bruises, the blood and the weariness in his eyes that goes beyond physical tiredness. When last he faced such an eluvian it had been at a time when he had proven himself to his people as well as to his own sense of self doubt. After a difficult trial facing shades and a small giant, Revas had stood before an eluvian and touched the surface. In doing so he changed his life from there on out, his life ended and started simultaneously in that moment. And at this memory, Hope beckons for Revas to do so again. Not to lose an eye or to gain another spirit companion, but to release Hope back to the Fade as their connection is severed and they stand as two separate entities again. A sacrifice for happiness, for freedom, and for hope. One done with a glad heart filled with a certain kind of sadness Revas himself finds hard to name.

It takes Revas a moment to gather his thoughts on this matter. Sure, he had wanted to be freed from this soul-bound connection. To not have a potentially life long companion sharing his body and stepping out from time to time in sometimes the most dire of circumstances. But to end the bond entirely leaves a hollow feeling in his heart. He needs to be his own person, to feel free to move and act as he wishes. To accept the often fickle whims of fate rather than rely on a spiritual passenger to bail him out of the troubles he often finds himself in. But such a companion grows on you after a time, and the hollow pangs grow as Hope acknowledges the feeling they share as well. Hope asks for their release, but knows that their time spent with Revas has changed them just as much as Hope brought change to Revas’ life. And here in this place filled with death and destruction, Hope seeks to move on for Revas but to leave at a time when their namesake can once again take the place they have made for themselves within Revas’ heart.

Shy of tearful, Revas is quiet and careful as he reaches out towards the eluvian, alerting the others to his movements as the gang comes to stand beside him just as they had the first time. The eluvian glows gently when it is approached, and Revas feels a tug in his chest. Hope slips from his chest and starts to shimmer, almost as if they are being pulled towards the eluvian. Slowly, Hope approaches it, and the flickering gets more intense the closer the spirit gets. The eluvian itself seems to react to Hope’s advance, and Revas can see some of the cracks filling in. When Hope turns around, the look on their face is sad. Then Hope signs.

“I know you are afraid of me. You want to be free again in the knowledge that your body is your own. That your mind is your own. I offer you freedom.”

Hope steps even closer to the eluvian, and small tendrils of energy seem to be flowing from them towards the eluvian.

“Sacrifice me. I don’t belong with you, and you don’t want me here. Let me be free.”

Hope motions for Revas to step closer, and urges him towards the eluvian.

“Touch it and prepare to fight back. It will not be pleasant, but afterwards both of us will be free.”

When Revas touches the eluvian, a searing pain shoots through his body, all the way to his heart.

At the same time, a barrage of images shoots through Revas’ mind, seemingly trapping him in place. Stars shine brightly in his vision, aligning into ever more complicated patterns. Eventually, they stop moving. At the centre of it all, Revas can see the moon in various different stages.

The four outer rings hold eight symbols each.

Hope’s voice rings in Revas’ head.

“It all began with the moon…” Hope says, with the hint of a smile as the words fade into nothing.

When Revas solves the puzzle, he focuses back on his surroundings, and watches as Hope disintegrates and is fully consumed by the eluvian.

The eluvian’s surface has now fully restored itself, and it glimmers like water

Falling forward, a momentum he hasn’t quite prepared himself for, ends up sending Revas into the eluvian. Soothing like water yet clouded with flickers of light and shimmers of forgotten dreams, Revas finds himself passing through and into another place quite different from his other forays into one. Symbols, strange and whose meaning is lost on him, are etched into the rock around him. He blinks to try to understand, turning back towards the way he came as his curiosity begs but his mind holds onto the practical line of thought.

Before he can question what all is going on, an arm moves through the strange water-like surface, waving about as if to find something to touch or hold onto. As he pushes his way through, Revas finds Sargis coming to stand at his side, whistling softly as if the passage into this place didn’t faze him in the slightest. Though Revas no longer has Hope to rely on, here were his friends who had been with him every step of the way. It was they that he could come to lean on when times were tough, and at that thought a sad sort of smile shines through his moment of confusion and melancholy as they look out away from the mirror and towards whatever this place might have in store for them.


SOMEWHERE

Sunday, 08.04.841 TE
Day

When Revas and Sargis exit the eluvian on the other side, they find themselves in a large, circular area, reminiscent of the inside of a crater or volcano. Far, far up above them, they can see the sky, which is nothing more than a circular shape of blue in the distance; massive, sheer walls surround them, and it looks like there is no way up.

When looking around the large area, spanning easily two or three hundred yards, Revas soon finds that they are not alone. Large winged beings relax on the rocky floor, sit atop rock ledges, or fly high above them. Some of the beasts look at them with keen interest.

The eluvian behind them seems to be part of the crater’s wall, and there are several alcoves next to it, which hold various items made of leather, some of them looking like saddles or bridles.

Glancing between the saddles and the griffons, it doesn’t take long for an idea to pop into both their heads, though Sargis is the first to say it out loud. “Let’s ride them.”

Revas is quick to agree that they should at least try, it’s not every day you get a chance like this after all.

Sargis is first to approach one of the beasts, a large brown one whose feathers change to a deep crimson on its head and legs. He walks near it, tossing a portion of his rations towards it to lure it closer. It takes a little time and a lot of rations, but eventually Sargis is able to touch the griffon, running his hand along soft feathers. Then, with his trademark grin towards Revas, he leads the griffon towards one of the alcoves.

Seeing Sargis’ success, Revas takes a deep breath and spots a smaller griffon, with a white head that darkens to a golden ochre color towards the body, eyeing him curiously a little distance away with warm brown eyes. Revas approaches it carefully, speaking softly to it while taking a page out of Sargis’ book and tossing some food towards it. Eventually Revas is also able to get close enough to touch the griffon, continuing the soft Elvhen words and the griffon seems to relax.

Saddling the two creatures takes some thinking and a little trial and effort but soon enough both griffons are properly saddled and bridled up. Revas and Sargis share an excited smile as they climb on their respective mounts and before they know it, they are off the ground and flying towards the clouds at rather alarming speed, the griffons wasting no time testing their new riders.

If saddling the griffons was a bit of a learning curve, it has nothing on actually riding one. All too well aware of how far away the ground is, both Sargis and Revas do their best to learn how to work with these beasts and fortunately for them, it doesn’t take too long before they are flying in the air at a bit more calm pace.

They take a moment to take in where they are, though neither of them recognise the land below them, before reluctantly deciding to head back towards ground and the eluvian that brought them here.

Approaching the eluvian, Revas is about to hop off his griffon when Sargis shakes his head with a big grin.

“No, no, let’s ride in. It’ll be great!”


JAINEN

Sunday, 08.04.841 TE
Day

Meanwhile outside, Valeria and Rhea look to one another with uncertainty as they glance between the eluvian and the unconscious captive before them. They have taken every precaution they can with such a wily and dangerous mage, but just being in her presence sends a shiver up both of their spines. A woman of blood and pain, who drew from them their very life essence and threatened to take away from them all they held dear. Now reduced to a bruised and bloodied figure, helpless in unconsciousness but no less a threat to them and theirs. And at a time like this, when trouble could come knocking at any moment, Revas and Sargis disappear into an unknown eluvian to face gods know what.

The air is tinged with anxiety and worry, a moment of common thought between the two warriors as they wait impatiently for Revas and Sargis to return. But what they see next takes them by surprise as a beak appears through the mirrored surface first before out rides Revas and Sargis on beautiful griffons, the likes the two women have never seen before. The look of triumph and camaraderie is plain on Revas and Sargis’ faces, and the griffons look nervous but listen to the commands of their riders fine enough to impress the two women.

There’s a conspiratorial glance between Valeria and Rhea, the pang of envy taking over their senses after such a harrowing ordeal in Jainen castle has been dealt with. They are quick with their words, giving requests to Sargis and Revas to guard their captive and watch over her closely before they hurry into the eluvian themselves and throw caution to the wind. For why hang about on hearts filled with sorrow and pain, when the thrill of adventure calls to them before their energy is gone and the time for reflection is upon them…

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Episode #119
Blood and Lyrium

08.04.841 TE – Jainen
Revas, Rhea, Sargis, Valeria

Jainen Castle

JAINEN

Sunday, 08.04.841 TE
Midday

Dark crimson seeps into the black flagstone of Jainen castle’s depths. How many bodies there were is hard to tell as Valeria and Sargis begin to feel the wave of exhaustion hit after fighting for their lives just moments before. Looking at one another, they note the sure signs of blood magic and pain written plain across their features and silently work together to clean themselves up even just a little bit. Their teamwork is what won the battle, but even so a chill still hangs in the air as they settle down in a less bloody part of the floor and rest back to back and keep a wary eye towards the paths leading to and from the room.

Illen and Adem, unsure what to say in this situation, watch on as the two warriors take a breather, though Adem seems more concerned with the sounds he hears around him than the two human’s previous plight. He speaks to himself quietly, whispers in the dark that get swallowed by the gloom. And though Illen seems intent on keeping watch, she looks towards the path ahead with a worried expression as the darkened hall seems as quiet as a grave.


Further north from the rest of the group, Revas leads Rhea into a narrow hallway, which is only sparsely lit by a lantern from a room to the south. Right in front of them are a couple boxes and two chests, which they leave for now, as chasing Magistra Lutatia is their priority. A couple yards into the hallway, the doorway to the room leading north has been blocked with a massive cage, and beyond it, Revas can see enraged corpses in gibbets. He and Rhea decide to ignore this room for now and move on, past another storage room, which they soon realise was a massive mistake. Several figures spill out of the room once the two heartbreakers have walked past, and all of a sudden, the air is filled with the crackling sound of lightning, which shoots towards them and sends searing jolts of pain through their entire bodies. As if the spells coming their way weren’t enough, two misshapen figures move out of the room at rapid speed and sink their corrupted and crystallised arms into Revas and Rhea. They do their best to fight back, but only moments into the fight it becomes clear that while the mages can be rather quickly taken down, the people overgrown with red lyrium are more formidable than they seem. Their movements are quick and precise, and they dodge incoming attacks with surprising ease.

Revas and Rhea manage to kill all of the attackers, but not without suffering bruises, sprains, and cuts which soak their armours in blood. Despite the pain they are in, they press on, moving further down the hallway towards a bend that seems to lead north. As they are about to round the corner, they spot a doorway leading into a dark room. Near it lies a fallen over wheelbarrow, spilling bones onto the stone floor. Femurs, skulls, and ribs lie there in the semi-darkness, and beyond the open door, a mass of bones is visible in the darkness.

Before they can even discern how they feel about this visible reminder of just how many fell victim to Magistra Lutatia, Revas hears the sounds of footsteps, and with very few options available to them, he and Rhea slip into the room filled with bones, pressing against the wall in the hopes of staying undetected. Painfully aware of the sickening display of mass murder, they wait until the footsteps move further away until they disappear entirely.

They hear their hearts beating in their ears, seconds turned to minutes and minutes turned to hours as they wait. Though the waiting is hard, the wounds painful and singing almost as loud as the red lyrium that fills the rooms and halls of Jainen castle, time to ones thoughts is what really starts to leave a scar or two on Rhea and Revas’ minds.

Blood, crimson, and reeking of iron is their constant companion. Mixed with dust and rot as bodies fall to ruin just as much as some of the stonework within this wretched place. It fills their senses with horror, and their minds with a coldness they haven’t felt in quite some time. Though this experience is one the two share in this moment of silence and reflection, the turmoil in their minds is a beast they must take on alone.

Rhea feels the sensation of the darkness reaching out, grasping hands of horror seeking to drag her into the pits of despair. The bones nearby, some big and some small, has her turn her face away in disgust and pain as memories of the battlefield come flooding into her mind. She is a warrior, one who fought alongside her battalion.

Though it was not the same as sailing the seas with her father, she had grown connected to the First Century and those who served there. Ready to lay down her life for them and they to her in return. Life had made sense then, filled with purpose and stability in what she was and what she needed to do. She thinks back on this as the corruption of the near highest heights of the government she once served leaves such destruction in their wake as Magistra Lutatia puts on macabre display within her home.

Rhea, who had come to find love and made a family for herself. Rhea who bears the locket of the Wayward Heart, a token of love between her parents that guides her from time to time when she herself finds herself lost in this often confusing and painful world. This warrior of iron and keen wit who, despite not having much magic in comparison to a traditionally thought mage, puts them to shame time and time again.

And yet, where would she have been had she not stepped away from the path of the battalion? Would she too have found herself championing the pain and bearing the blood of so many innocents upon her hands? The bones, the blood, the singing of the lyrium that calls out to her louder than anyone else within the Heartbreaker Gang, all come together in one horrifying what if scenario as she listens and waits for more dangers to appear from the very shadows that she had just begun to take comfort and solace in. A corrupted connection to her mother, here in the tomb of the wicked and haunted.

Too loud, heartbeats and echoing noises from all directions. Revas winces and tries not to look at what’s in the room around him. The walls around him, filled with years of neglect and pain feel like they’re closing in around him as he tries to get his thoughts together. The dead elves, the rituals, the blood, and red lyrium all mix into something not even his darkest nightmares had come to show him. Pain had filled their expressions, eyes no longer capable of tears stared up at the ceiling lifelessly. He clutches his dagger tightly as he tries to shake his thoughts away from this path when their faces turn into Ardis and his lifeless body left to lie on the floor unattended and uncared for.

He can’t think of that, of the sadness that grips his heart and makes it hard to focus and breathe as he attempts to steady himself and keep his attention on the hallway beyond. What monstrous creature would come for him next? Bearing the signs of abuse and torture as the red lyrium sings and they dance to its tune. What could he do but put them to rest in as quick and kind a way as he could manage. Mages who had lost all the light from their eyes, warriors whose visages and bodies had become twisted and mangled with sharp shards of crimson sticking out of them. The dead, the bones, the blood and sweat and tears of the fallen all hold onto Revas’ heart tightly as he struggles to find a way to help. A desire to do something, anything, to ease the suffering of those here both living and dead.

When he had heard of the gang’s plans to attack this place and take out the magistra once and for all, he had made his mind up to make a difference in this place. Illen and her contact were the key, a way to end the suffering of the elves who had become trapped within the cruel magistra’s machinations. How could she commit such crimes against the living, to leave a steadily weeping wound in the hearts of the elves and of all who came in contact with her darkened heart. Revas would be there with the gang to make a change, to stand up against the darkness and cast it aside. To soothe the hurt and make up for what horrors surround the Heartbreaker Gang constantly haunt their steps. But here and now, standing with his back to the nameless remains of those who had died in such hopeless and cruel surroundings, the what ifs and should haves choke off all other thought as he listens and waits.


Valeria and Sargis meanwhile follow Adem’s lead and head towards the room the others had teleported into. They come upon a ritual circle at the entrance room, the colour of which leads them to believe that it was drawn onto the floor with blood. Three dead elves wearing little more than breeches lie in the circle, arranged in a triangle. Valeria carefully skirts around the circle, walking as close to the wall as possible, while Sargis cares little for such concerns.

Once in the room, they have a quick look around and Valeria takes several books with her, all of them written in Tevene, which she cannot actually read. If they had more time, Valeria would have a closer look at things, but with the two Reckless Rs somewhere in this dungeon with no way of contacting them, Sargis and Valeria decide to press on to try and catch up with the two faster members of the Heartbreaker Gang.

As they follow what they hope is the same path as the other two, Sargis and Valeria check the various doors they move past, but find little of interest. As they move down the long corridor leading to the room filled with bones, they hear loud grunts and cries, and the clanking of metal onto something hard. Suspecting that their friends are in trouble, and seeing the bodies of the mages and red lyrium infected people Revas and Rhea fought earlier, Sargis and Valeria quicken their steps.


While Sargis and Valeria had made their way through the other hallways and rooms, Revas and Rhea had left the room of bones behind them and continued on north, into a room bathed in a red glow. A feeling of unease came over Revas and Rhea, as a strange pull coming from the red lyrium seemed to draw them closer. Unable to resist, and Magistra Lutatia still fresh in both their minds, Revas moves into the room, where he finds himself surrounded by four red lyrium-infested enemies, hidden from sight just a moment before. A fight breaks out, and with the enemies and massive red lyrium clusters blocking the only exits, things start looking grim for Revas and Rhea.

Thankfully, Sargis and Valeria arrive just in time, though the layout of the dungeon makes it hard for them to properly assist. One of the corrupted people stands in the doorway, making it impossible for them to enter, and so they resort to hacking at the man until he collapses in a pool of blood. They fight their way into the room, which is small and not only filled with red lyrium clusters the size of a person, but also a brazier at its centre, and many moving bodies as the fight continues.

Just when the heartbreakers think they have made it, a mage comes up from behind Illen and Adem, but a well-placed arrow from Revas strikes him down without much ado. Once the dead mage collapses, the group waits in silence, still very much on edge. When all they hear is the strange singing and whispering coming from the red lyrium, they settle down to take care of their wounds and take care of the worst of it. They do so in relative silence, with only Sargis making a joke here or there to lighten the mood.

Once everyone is taken care of, the four of them—still followed by Illen and Adem—leave the room behind them and go through the open doorway to the east, which is their only option. The western door is blocked by massive red lyrium growth, and the northern door leads into a small storage space.

The room they find themselves in is large and dark save for a single torch which illuminates a man-sized cluster of red lyrium and an upside down table. By the looks of it, this room used to be inhabited by people once: broken beds and furniture are lying strewn all over the place. Apart from that, the room seems empty and devoid of life. A doorway leads north.

The members of the Heartbreaker Gang look around uncomfortably, all too aware of the effect the surroundings seem to have on Adem. The deeper they go into the dungeon, the more fidgety he seems to become. When they enter the next room, Adem stays near the doorway they came through, flanked by Illen, who quietly speaks to him.

Revas has a look around this dark room, keeping an eye on the shadows to make sure there won’t be any more unpleasant surprises. A torture device stands prominently to the right, a pool of blood right below it, which is likely the source of the rancid smell permeating everyone’s senses. Several iron maidens are at the opposite end of the room, just as dirty as the strange torture device. A door is almost hidden between two of them. In the corner just left of the group is a tub, filled halfway with some kind of dirty looking liquid, a closed door right next to it. Between the tub and the iron maidens is an open doorway leading west.

Revas points out the room closest to them, which is the closed door leading south. Rhea tries the handle, and the door opens with a loud creak. The room is dark save for the faint glow coming from the torch hanging near the group. Only Revas is able to see details without stepping inside, but everyone can smell the sudden waft of iron in the air. The room itself is small, and Revas’ eye is drawn to the corpses of elves lying in here, badly wounded, and clearly emaciated.

The group wastes no time in this room once they have made sure that none of the elves in this room are alive. They close the door behind them, a sickening feeling in their stomachs. Nearby, Adem is visibly shaking, and mumbling to the empty air next to him.

With racing thoughts the Heartbreaker Gang makes their way to the closed door near the iron maidens. Sargis tries the handle, but the door is firmly locked. Revas moves past him and listens at the door, and when he hears a quiet whisper of some sort, he decides to at least give picking the lock a try. It’s an old and partially rusted lock, so the task is not an easy one, but even so he manages in a rather short amount of time, while the other members of the group stand guard and keep a watchful eye on the darkness surrounding them.

The lock makes a clicking sound, and satisfied, Revas opens the door, prepared for anything. But instead of the attack most of the Heartbreaker Gang expected, they spot four elves sitting in the darkness, leaning against the wall. Every single one of them looks too exhausted to move much, and it almost feels like they are wasting away right in front of them.

Revas immediately enters the room and offers what food and water he has as well as his services as a budding healer. One of the elves—a young man with black hair who wears a purple robe—accepts his offer, and though his wounds are minor, Revas takes the time to bandage them while Valeria and Rhea try to gain some information from him. He introduces himself as Kiris, and while he seems willing to answer questions, he does not seem to see the point in the gang helping the other prisoners.

“They’re going to die anyway, you might as well save the resources.”

At these words and the expressions on their faces, the group begins to feel uncertain. While Sargis moves into a better position to block the door from any incoming threats, Valeria and Rhea look upon the scene with different views on the treatment of these elves. For Valeria, it tugs at her heartstrings and reminds her of her own escaped past. To be locked up in a place like this is beyond cruel, and those souls left in the dark have greatly withered for it. Rhea on the other hand takes Kiris’ words to heart and seems more frustrated but stuck at the same time. She wants to help and do something about this, to right the wrong Magistra Lutatia has done to them, but at the moment such acts of kindness might fall on deaf ears. Instead Rhea’s anger at the situation focuses on the magistra herself, who not only brought harm to these people but dragged Tevinter’s name through the mud even deeper than any other higher up, other than Cato and Augustus, that the Heartbreaker Gang had encountered thus far. A simmering hatred that only cools when Kiris looks her way with worry in his eyes before she calms just a bit.

Revas ignores the comment and instead has a look at the other elves. An old man with a bald head is sitting hunched over in a corner, his threadbare shirt revealing just how emaciated he is. Next to him sits a young brunette woman, her eyes looking off into the distance. When Revas addresses her, there is no response. She just sits there, staring into the distance.

The fourth elf is a middle-aged woman with red hair who quietly asks Revas to take care of her sore wrists. They are badly bruised and swollen, and Revas takes a moment to make sure to alleviate the woman’s pain.

Illen, upon seeing the state of those within the small, cramped space, turns to Revas with a worried look in her eye. With the state that everyone is in, even with Revas’ aid in seeing to their needs as best he can given the circumstances, they are in no shape to be left alone. The chance someone might come to attack them is too great a risk to allow. She also gives a side glance to Adem, who upon seeing the people in the room once again seems to mentally crumple inwards as he whispers to himself and off in a direction as his conversation begins. His sister, someone he knew? Illen could only guess sometimes what was going through the man’s mind. But having known him for so long, she knows the signs of when it’s time for him to take a break before things get worse.

To this, Revas seems uncertain. Illen is capable, someone who came to his aid on the road and someone he has come to lean against whenever their paths cross. But the dangers of this place, of the red lyrium laced singing and the shaky ground even he stands on with those currently sitting in the room, puts him more on edge at the thought of leaving her without at least a member of the gang for backup. Their staring match, as if daring the other one to say the words “go” or “I’ve got this” leaves a strange sort of tension in the air until Revas looks away and gives a curt nod to Illen’s request. She can look after them for a little while, but time is of the essence to find the magistra and bring an end to this horror show in castle Jainen so that those who have survived the ordeal can finally take a moment to breathe and process what they’ve been through. Revas will go and do what he must, but his heart is torn nevertheless as more what ifs and should haves clog his worried mind.

With just the four of them now and no one to protect or slow them down, the Heartbreaker Gang moves into the next room stealthily, with Revas keeping an eye out. The room they are in now is large and L-shaped, and entirely empty save for the red lyrium clusters growing everywhere. Opposite the group, two heavily armoured red lyrium warriors guard a dark hallway. The heroes’ sudden attack from the safety of darkness takes them by surprise and the ensuing fight is short and decisively won by the gang.

Threats removed, they press on down the hallway, where the sound of something large moving quickly catches the group’s attention. It is a rhythmic sound of wood scraping against stone, which gets louder the further they go. When they get closer to the mechanical contraption, they soon realize that it won’t be an easy feat to get to Magistra Lutatia. Four large metal-reinforced wheels made of wood scrape over the stone floor, opening and closing the path forward. They move at different intervals and at rapid speed, only allowing those who are quick on their feet to pass through without injury. Rhea is the first to take the leap and make it past the four wheels and towards a square room of massive proportions. The other three follow, with Sargis and Valeria struggling somewhat, but making it through unharmed.

The room opening up before them is mostly bathed in light by flickering torches which are hanging from the walls. Right at the entrance, red lyrium crystals block the path, and several corrupted red lyrium covered humanoids are waiting there in the light. They don’t seem to have noticed the group yet, likely because the group is still very well hidden in the dark.

The massive room is largely empty, though there is a fenced off area to the east. Behind the fence, the group can see cages as well as a table with a body on it. Along the walls of the room, there are several doors which are clearly holding cells. From some of them, whimpering can be heard.

The gang initiates the fight and tries to take out the red lyrium-corrupted warriors as quickly as possible so they can move deeper into the room and towards the magistra who is lobbing spells at them from afar. Once the first enemy is down, Sargis charges the magistra, interrupting her little monologue with little fanfare. A tiny flicker can be seen when he strikes at her, and when several of his attacks seem to have no effect on her, Rhea calls out that it is likely a spell protecting the magistra.

At that, Magistra Lutatia simply laughs and opens several of the cells surrounding the room remotely. Crazed mages spill out of them, sending searing pain through the gang’s bodies as they use their lightning spells against them. Angry and in pain, Rhea takes out one of them right away, while Sargis and Revas focus on the magistra, and Valeria handles the remaining corrupted lyrium warrior.

After some fighting, it seems that Magistra Lutatia’s energy is dwindling. She rushes towards the other side of the room and activates a mechanism.

“Keep them in here! Don’t let them escape!” The moment the magistra calls out, the floor starts shooting spikes at anyone standing upon it. Many of the mages cry out in pain when the spikes strike them, while most of the Heartbreaker Gang manage to dodge the dangerous projectiles. Once they get used to the constant barrage of spells and lightning, the heroes make short work of the remaining enemies. Rhea’s anger and frustration reaches higher and higher heights as she looks down the path the magistra has taken, escaping from the gang and into the unknown depths of Jainen castle. Even now the magistra’s cruelty and disregard for her own people is plain to all of the Heartbreaker Gang, and it only acts as a reason to chase after her and end this nightmare as soon as possible. The magistra might have such petty tricks and traps up her sleeve, but that won’t stop justice from seeing her dealt with for both those still alive and the near countless others who died either by the magistra’s negligence or her dark hearted ways.

The gang leaves the room, coming upon another set of the massive wooden wheels. They look the same as the ones they encountered earlier, but they move at a slower pace, which makes crossing a little easier. Revas, Rhea, and Sargis leap from one safe spot to the next, evading the dangerous trap, while Valeria rests and waits, hoping that her party members will be able to locate the lever that pulls the trap to a stop.

The room Revas, Rhea, and Sargis find themselves in is dark and lacking any light. Broken furniture has been strewn about, and there are ten wooden stands in the various corners of the room, each one of them holding a wheel at its centre. Four of these stands are safely hidden behind a metal fence, but the other six are accessible through door-sized openings in the fence surrounding them.

After some trial and error, Revas finds the wheels that turn off the wooden contraptions blocking Valeria’s path.

Together again, the four of them move west, where a doorway and steps lead somewhere upstairs. Once the heroes have climbed up the steps, they find themselves in a small room reeking of blood. Clearly this room has not been used in a long time, but a faint smell of blood still remains. At the centre of the room, just next to the small trap door they entered through, stands an altar made of stone, with dark brown grooves decorating the top. Shackles are attached to the altar at all four corners, and it is hard not to conjure up images of what might darken the grooves enough to leave a permanent stain.

Trying to ignore the smell, Valeria looks around and takes note of the shackles lining the wall as well as the table in the southwest corner of the room which holds a sickening amount of torture utensils. The haunting memories of the past flood her senses as she keeps her distance, and she holds her wrist awkwardly as she hopes to move away from this space as soon as possible. Nothing good could come from this, and the reminder of what was, what could have been, and what could be makes it hard for her to shake the feeling of being watched. Even when the rest of the room and corridor is as silent as a grave.

Next to her, Revas feels a strange sensation as Hope makes themselves known. A sense of urgency washes over him as he feels inexplicably drawn north by the intense desire Hope floods his senses with. He notices a crack of light in the wall to the north, which reveals a secret pathway opening up into a bedroom. Judging by the opulence of it, this is likely Magistra Lutatia’s private chamber. Revas has a quick look around, but does not find anything that piques his interest.

Rhea, however, is already digging through Magistra Lutatia’s wardrobe and shoving robe after robe into her almost bursting backpack. “These fabrics are exquisite! I’m sure Taara can repurpose them into something for myself or Liam,” she says dreamily.

Still in what looks to be a torture room, Sargis watches as Revas walks back towards him, a strange look on his face. He feels a hint of concern, but waves that away with one of his trademark smiles. Pointing east and at the door he is holding open, Sargis tilts his head at Revas.

“Come on, let’s go and stab the crazy mage.”

Revas tries to hide the increasingly stronger pull he feels to go north, and—slightly distracted—agrees to move on into the next room. Books upon books upon books can be found in this large library, stacked from floor to ceiling, skillfully sorted by topic and genre. Rhea takes in as much as she can, taking note of some of the labelled categories as well as famous titles she can spot even from a distance. Sargis rolls his eyes at this boring stuff and suggests that the only thing books are good for is to keep oneself warm at a campfire.

Together, the group moves east, where a door leads out of the room. Just across the hallway, opposite the library, is a small guest room with several beds. A soft carpet lies at the centre of the room, and each bed has a small nightstand next to it. In the corner of the room, a large bronze shield leans against the wall. Sargis only glances into this room and then leads the group into the room to the south instead and onto a balcony overlooking what looks to be the foyer. Four intricately decorated pillars are holding up the ceiling, and two golden statues stand near the centre of the room. It is hard to tell who they depict from here. One looks like a mage, impaled by dozens of arrows, holding up an elegant but broken staff, while the other looks like a warrior, holding up a massive gem.

Beyond the pillars, four corrupted guards are holding the door, which is being banged against in irregular intervals by something large, or heavy, or both. Dust trickles down towards the guards with every bang, and the vibration of the impact seems to even reverberate inside the group’s bodies.

When Rhea and Valeria suggest fighting the guards now while they are distracted, Revas speaks up and points out the double doors to the north, just a couple yards away from them. Clearly that is where Magistra Lutatia must have gone, and they are wasting precious time. Inside of him, Hope vibrates with energy, putting Revas slightly on edge as the urge to go north increases in intensity.

With opinions split, the group looks at the warriors to the south and the double doors to the north as they look upon their options…

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Episode #118
What Red Eyes You Have

07.04.841 – 08.08.841 TE – Raven’s Roost & Jainen
Revas, Rhea, Sargis, Valeria

The Lonely Siren

RAVEN’S ROOST

Ashday, 07.04.841 TE
Morning

Eyes turn towards Valeria, some heatedly calm and others questioning. Leonara has found another table to sit at, while Arna motions for Valeria to sit down beside her. Doing as she’s told, Valeria waits for the hammer but instead finds herself answering questions of the heart. While feelings are swirling about Valeria in a constant storm of thought and emotion, her feelings for Arna remain as solid and steadfast as ever. Though she doesn’t seem happy about it, Arna listens and brings up the question that has Valeria’s heart skipping a beat until she regains her footing in the conversation.

Why didn’t Valeria just have Leonara escorted by someone else? This was a simple question, one that shouldn’t take more than a few seconds to think of and agree to, but an uneasy rhythm beats through Valeria’s heart as she explains her worries. Not even a day or so has passed since Leonara has come to stay here, and the rumours and judgment from the villagers is understandable but far too strong to accept. If there’s any chance of smoothing it over, Valeria wishes to take it, and that meant showing everyone Valeria’s faith in the mage as she showed her around her home.

There’s still glimpses of doubt in Arna’s eyes as Valeria waits for her reply, and the warrior is quick to comfort her and help waft away the dark clouds in her mind that show up from time to time. The best way to do so is with jokes and compliments, something she’s come to find work nine times out of ten. Her heart still belongs to Arna, and nothing can make that feeling go away. Just sometimes there are stumbling blocks and life moves forward and towards the people you least expect. It won’t change how you feel, just change how the rhythm of life moves about. There’s no telling where the wind will blow sometimes, and perhaps that can be for the better. Only time will tell with this particular path the two find themselves on now.

With some gentle reminders of their love, Arna’s posture softens a bit as the two talk. There’s even a few laughs shared, and a reddening of Arna’s cheeks as the jokes become more pointed like usual, and she leaves in slightly better spirits to escape the embarrassment. As she does so, however, another makes their escape at the same time while the others are distracted. Rhea sneaks off to speak with Revas after seeing his expression when he came to talk to Valeria earlier. Not all seems to be going well for the Heartbreaker Gang as worries start to take hold before their trip into dangerous territory.

Meeting up at the aravel, the gentle rustling of the leaves bathes the area in a soft light as Rhea greets Revas and glances over at the halla grazing peacefully. While Rhea speaks to Revas about her worries over his expression earlier when talking to Valeria, her own worries start to spill out as they talk. Rage has taken hold of her heart as of late, sadness there in equal parts as grief hangs about her shoulders and weighs her down. Revas, ever one to listen, guides her to the table inside where tea is being shared with Illen and the lads.

When Rhea takes a moment to pause and reflect on her feelings for a moment, Revas reveals a part of himself as he sees how difficult of a time she’s having with her words. The story isn’t a happy one, a memory of slavers that had captured him. It was through Ilen’s help that he had managed to escape in the first place. She had helped bring him to Jader, and since then they had been good friends. Connected through such experiences, they promised to help each other whenever they could and as the time to storm Jainen approaches, Illen is there the whole way through. Even upon hearing that the fight would start tomorrow, Illen is quick to go off and inform her contact so that everything runs as smoothly as possible when taking Magistra Lutatia down once and for all.

After a few sips of tea and taking a moment to soak in the warmth it brings, Rhea speaks up again about her morning ritual and her close call in the Fade. Ardis shifts uncomfortably as she says this, the word “ritual” leaving a bad taste in his mouth as he hunches over his cup of tea more than before. Revas meanwhile looks at Rhea as if she’d mentioned nearly throwing herself off the tower instead. The risk involved with such rituals is already high, but to do so alone without any hint or indication to anyone is practically asking for something to go wrong. He says such, trying to keep his temper even as his heart beats wildly in his chest for a moment.

Rhea speaks to him honestly, saying that her curiosity and excitement for the new ritual overtook her regular sensibilities. It’s not often that she gets to participate in such grand magical rituals, nor to be one who could benefit from it greatly. The love of magic, the respect for it, and the heart that yearns all mixed into one swirling mess that had her act a bit rashly. With this risk in mind though, Rhea already has plans should anything happen to her during her adventures with the gang. Faustus, her friend of many years and one who helps Rhea find her centre, would join Revas in looking after baby Liam. All money and earnings would also go to Liam’s benefit as stories of his parents would be told on the regular so he might have at least some connection with them should Rhea pass on.

It takes Revas a few minutes more to sort through this information, imploring her to at least tell him when such risks might be taken, before they settle into another topic that weighs heavily in Rhea’s mind. Gaspar is still missing, lost somewhere out at sea or gods know where. Rescue plans need to be made, even some scouting for information at the very least to see where the old ex-pirate might have been last.

But while problems still stand in the way of that particular goal, at least for the time being, Rhea’s heart aches slightly as she speaks of him and remembers his relationship with her mother Adalita. The two had been a great example of love to her as she grew up, stories and myth melded together into one as the adventures of Adalita and Gaspar often helped soothe her to sleep or calm her down when she was upset.

Where is Rhea’s happily ever after, like in the stories she so often heard. Braedon, the love of her life, has already been taken away and though Liam stands as a beautiful reminder of the love they shared, her heart yearns to share the love and receive it in return. How could she though? To love another so soon after Braedon makes her breath catch in her throat along with a sob she can’t let out lest she fall to pieces right there and then. Memories of past interests swirl around in her mind, mixing the good times with the bad until a singular individual strides to the forefront of her thoughts almost unexpectedly.

Lord Bryton, a man of nobility and stature, of grace and civility. Rhea remembers her first impressions of the people of Ferelden, a people quite different from those back in Antiva. The rough and tumble people who loved dogs a little bit too much and participated in such barbaric rituals and even law in comparison to home. And yet amongst all the mud and blood of this land, there have been a few shining examples of excellence and decorum that catches her eye time and time again. Lord Bryton is one such individual, who looked her way during the banquet she had attended as well as his advances during Bard Fest.

How hard it had been to resist smiling at him ever so sweetly, to put on her usual charm and begin the careful dance of conversation and flirtation. Just as things had begun to spark and heat up Braedon had walked to her side in that moment without any idea of the looks between the two. At that time, Lord Bryton backed away, respecting the relationship between Rhea and her husband, but now that Braedon had gone on to a better place…would he not wish for her continued happiness? Braedon, a man of gentleness and a giving heart, knew Rhea well enough. Would he not wish her well in her future endeavours and pursuit of someone to share her feelings with?

It takes her some time to piece these thoughts together, but the tone she unconsciously puts into her words when speaking of him is more than enough of an indicator of how she feels. Revas, ever one to pick up on such changes in body language and tone continues on that thread of conversation and adds his own thoughts on Lord Bryton’s behaviour during Bard Fest. This change to a lighter topic helps the mood overall in the aravel, and even Ardis seems to relax slightly as they continue talking for the rest of the afternoon and into the evening.

While the two talk in the aravel, supplies are gathered and tucked away by Sargis, ready for adventure and the upcoming fight with the magistra. Rope and bags are bought and emergency bottles of alcohol are collected for the eventual aftermath of such a battle. More often than not the group ends up in some sort of spiritual or mental fatigue, and he knows just what will cure such doubts and stormy sky moods. Packing everything away with care, Sargis speaks to Ronald and has him assist in getting everything together as the two chat amiably on what might be seen there in Jainen.

Off in the village, standing in front of the tailor shop, Valeria gives an awkward half smile to Leonara before glancing at the building nervously as if she was about to be dragged into it by bolts of fabric and a tangle of thread. She met with Leonara at her room earlier, full of goofy confidence and enthusiasm. The want to make a good impression, amongst other things, has Valeria acting oddly whenever she catches the mage’s eye and this is exacerbated further with the looks she receives back. Leonara, ever one to catch on to such things, falls into a comfortable step next to the warrior as she says a few opening pleasantries before getting to business.

The role of librarian is a coveted position for those academics that have come to call Raven’s Glen home. Even more so for Leonara who has quite a bit of experience in such a role. The maintenance and organization of scrolls, tomes, and journals has been a favoured pastime of hers, and one that she aims to have again within this new organization she finds herself a part of. She measures her words carefully, mentioning Gale and her split attention between the library and the infirmary. While books and a good library are a chosen spot of repose and comfort for Gale, perhaps the role of head librarian isn’t quite the right fit for her. The infirmary needs as much attention and care as Gale can spare, and would also mean that she could come to the library whenever she has the time to relax and take her mind off of her work.

Who would look after the library however? A place that is getting fresh new material fairly often nowadays? Why not Leonara herself, who seeks to show the people of Raven’s Glen her willingness to work and cooperate with them while also finding herself in her element when it comes to knowledge and information. As Valeria ponders over this, Leonara shifts her posture slightly to show sincerity and patience before the warrior agrees to speak with Gale on the matter.

The smile from Leonara is warm and happy for at least that answer. Even as they walk down to the village, she can feel a slight spring in her step that’s only halted slightly by the soft spoken apologies from Valeria. Mention of the awkward lunch has Leonara looking at Valeria thoughtfully for a moment as she asks after Arna and her pointed glances in Leonara’s direction at the time. Valeria is quick to try and wave that question and any uncertainty away as she talks of Arna and their conversation at lunch. Things had been patched up and smoothed over without much problem, so there wasn’t anything for Leonara to worry about when it came to a potential aftermath. Leonara nods at this, seemingly content with that answer for now before they arrive in front of the shop.

Quick to notice the hesitation and change in behaviour from Valeria, Leonara raises an eyebrow and places a guiding hand on Valeria’s arm as she leads her into the shop and to the awaiting attentions of Taara who spotted the two outside earlier. Taara, ever one to enjoy the interactions with the awkward Ser Valeria, shares a conspiratorial glance with Leonara as the two look upon the semi-cowering figure beneath their gaze.

The two almost seem in sync, the business of fabric and outfit choice going practically unsaid as Valeria stands there awkwardly and seems ready to bolt in an instant. Taara, after having taken out her supplies for measurements, gives a nod to Leonara who begins to undress. Instead of leaving the clothes to touch the ground or to sit neatly on a table nearby, Valeria finds herself enveloped in warmth and scents she dare not name or focus on as Taara hands them to her and expects her cooperation in this task at least. It’s hard for Leonara to keep her expression even as she sees Valeria struggle, but she revels in the attention both then and when she begins trying on a few outfits at Taara’s suggestion.

The shimmer of gold fabric practically lights up the room as Leonara does a slow turn in the mirror to see how it fits. The sunlight reflects off it slightly, drawing one’s eye in her direction even if that someone is trying desperately to act as a proper host and guide on such endeavours rather than the disaster Valeria finds herself becoming more and more in Leonara’s presence.

When another dress is offered, that only makes the situation worse as Valeria shifts slightly and tries desperately to look anywhere but where the outfit indicates.

Smooth as silk and dyed a dangerous dark blue, the dress is a sight to behold by those who have interests in the latest fashions and designs. But for Valeria, whose eyes ever wander despite herself, the area of contention with both sides of her mind is the not so subtle slit up the sides that show off Leonara’s thighs and puts them prominently on display.

It takes Valeria some time to recover and hear the question from Taara who grins at the fool’s near slack jawed appearance. But the warrior shakes herself from her revere and quickly agrees to buy the dress for Leonara by way of thanks for her help in a few situations.

While said with the intention of making things even, Valeria’s inner thoughts are hard for anyone in the shop to not see as Leonara gets dressed again and Valeria moves to stare at other dresses. Picking out a bolt of a dark forest green material, and describing a design that hugs Arna’s frame in just the right places, proves to be an easier task for Valeria to focus on than any other at this moment.

Finishing up her commission request, with a surprising amount of speed, the overstimulated warrior stumbles her way out of the shop and into the fresh air again.

Leonara follows calmly after her, her amusement plain in her expression as she waits patiently for Valeria to gather herself once again. Their walk back to Leonara’s place is gentle on Valeria’s behalf, and the conversation is easy and calm as they meander their way through the streets of Raven’s Glen.

Parting ways at Leonara’s door, and making sure the mage was safe inside her room with her new gifted dress in hand, Valeria practically runs to the first person she can think of who would listen to her complaints over a good drink. Perhaps tonight she might even dabble in some gossip around town that isn’t about her for a change.

Velenna is more than happy to take up such an important task. How could she not after seeing a semi-wild eyed Valeria who’s showing the signs of having spent too much time in someone’s presence. Though the urge to tease comes to mind, Velenna sets that aside for now to help Valeria unwind a bit.

The conversation on Valeria’s part when she attempts to be discreet is near impossible to understand as she fumbles both mentally and physically. Eventually the stream of consciousness finds its way to Velenna, who helps soothe Valeria out but also enjoys the conversation and future gossip. Even the thoughts of the testing and nudges later on once Valeria has recovered from her plight is too good not to grin about while hiding it in a mug of ale to spare the warrior from another bout of embarrassment.

After a few drinks and a slightly calmed down Valeria, Velenna sends her off to go talk with Arna and maybe work out some of that tension in her shoulders as the warrior stumbles off in the direction she’s told with barely a coherent thought more than the comforts of her own bed.

Away from the disaster in Raven’s Roost, Revas spends a calm evening with the boys as they chat. Ardis seems to be trying to talk with Wulf again, with Oleo trying to help bridge the gap as they sit at the table together. Stealing away from the heart warming sight, Revas grabs the eluvian shard he had found and steps out the door for a moment to look into it.

Curiosity at what is coming next overtakes him, a second of letting his mind drift to those he had seen before. And when the slight shift of the moonlight hits the eluvian shard he sees something he wasn’t expecting.

A beautiful woman appears, with white hair that shines in the torch light and eyes that send a chill down his spine. Red eyes, focused and intent, peer back at Revas as he sits there silent and still despite the warmth emanating from the doorway behind him.

Almost as quickly as he sees her, the eluvian shard is covered and Revas is quick to do the same as his heart hammers in his chest. Those eyes, ones he will face soon enough, seem far more dangerous than the mere thought of it before. Eyes that remind him of another’s, ones that were focused on him in a way that even he can’t quite describe.

Were they angry? Filled with wicked intent? Or perhaps…there was a hunger there for something Revas can’t quite name. He desperately tries to shake these thoughts from his mind, breathing in the night air and listening to the rustling of the leaves and the sounds of town starting to fade into the quiet of the night.

Once he finds his own calm again, he quickly stows the eluvian shard away as he steps back in to try and enjoy his evening once more. Soon enough it would be time to face down the eyes of those who mean him some sort of harm or otherwise. But for now he needs to take the time to just…be, rather than lose himself in the what ifs and maybes.

Rhea meanwhile has a nice calm evening in her room, reading a few passages aloud to baby Liam as he lays in his bassinet nearby. After a morning of chaos and a ritual that has her pondering over it for quite some time, it’s nice to enjoy the simple pleasures of a good book and the soft breathing of her son as he slowly but surely falls asleep.

Sargis takes up his usual spot at the bar, talking with everyone amicably about the future triumph soon to come to The Heartbreaker Gang. Tales of his battle prowess flows around the room with ease and sends a feeling of anticipation amongst the patrons as he keeps his stories long and his drinks few. After all, there’s much to look forward to and it’s best to face the troubles of magic and magisters with a clear mind and a steady blade. At least that’s what he says as more drinks are offered and he waves them away with a story about another big beast he’d fought before even meeting with the gang.


JAINEN

Sunday, 08.04.841 TE
Morning

The gang makes preparations for their impending departure, and once everything is where it needs to be, they board the Lonely Siren, whose captain gives orders in a firm voice, though her Ciriane accent gives her harsh words a softer quality.

Aboard Captain Etienne’s ship are not only the members of the Heartbreaker Gang, but also a good amount of Steel Picks, hired in Highever to strike a decisive blow at Jainen, as well as a large number of the Raven Guard.

The ship drops the troops off at Leric Island’s small docks, and then moves further north, where the gang is supposed to meet with Illen’s contact. The Heartbreaker Gang arrives at a small, almost hidden beach at the coast of Jainen, which is little more than a rocky cliffside. Hexagonal rock formations rise to the sky, with Jainen Castle sitting at the very top. Everything is enveloped by fog, making everything seem softer than it actually is, and swallowing most every sound.

At the small beach, a lone figure is waiting for them. Adem, Illen’s contact. He is wearing shabby clothes that have been patched many times, his hair is oily, and his hands show signs of physical labour. When he steps up to them, he looks worried, scared even.

“I’m sorry, I had no choice,” is all he says as two giants emerge from the cave behind him, shove him aside and square off against the group. One of the giants whacks Adem as he moves past, and it seems like the man cannot help but keep getting in the way, getting struck by the giant’s clubs left and right.

“Don’t let him die, we need him to get in!” Illen yells.

The fight itself is not hard and barely challenges the experienced members of the Heartbreaker Gang—the only troublesome task being keeping Adem alive. In the end, the giants are dead and it is Revas who saved Adem from being crushed by the taller of the two giants.

“Adem, we trusted you,” Illen says. “Why would you betray us like this?”

“She found out and threatened to kill my sister. I had no choice.”

Illen goes quiet for a moment. “Adem. Your sister has been dead for years.”

“No, that… that can’t be right,” Adem whispers. “I just talked to her today.”

After some confused prodding questions by Illen and the group, it’s decided that they will move on, and Adem leads the group into the darkness of the cave which supposedly leads into the castle. It’s a winding set of tunnels, and the heroes know that without him, they would be perfectly lost. And so they wander through the darkness, led by their elvhen scout who can seem much better in the dark than they can, with the exception of Revas.

At some point they get to a section of the cave that is so narrow that they have to squeeze through, their backpacks in their hands, their bodies angled sideways.

After squeezing through the tight portion of the cave, it becomes obvious that they have now entered an old mineshaft. Wooden beams line the sides and ceilings, and old carts, boxes, and coals still lie around in the dark. With things lying around in the dark, it’s become extremely important to keep one’s footing on this difficult terrain.

And so they follow Adem, still without a light, as he warns them that there might be guards around this area. Darkness envelops them as they travel, progress slow-going as everyone is careful not to stumble. Suddenly, Adem stops. He whispers to the group:

“There’s some guards ahead. I’m not sure I can get you past these guys. I can try and convince them that the giants took you out, but should things go wrong, I’m not sure I will be able to make it out alive.”

Adem spots two guards in the distance, near a source of light. He can hear them speaking, and is sure that there are more of them. The group decides to send him ahead, and so he walks up to them, talking to them casually, hoping to distract them long enough to give the Heartbreaker Gang the opportunity to attack them from behind.

There are actually four guards, as well as two mabari warhounds. The guards stationed here are not only wearing plate armour, but they also defend themselves as best they can from the group’s attacks with their heavy shields. Shiny red crystals seem to have formed on their armour, almost as if they were growing out of them.

The fight goes fairly well, and even Valeria’s close call with the strange red crystal growth cannot slow the group down. Adem says the strange red lyrium people were made by Magistra Lutatia, and they seem a bit mad and unstable, almost as if the crystals growing out of their bodies are an indication of just how far gone they are.

After that encounter, Adem leads them further into the dark, still quietly, still without a light. Eventually they get to a metal door set into the wall, with visible stairs leading up beyond.

“This is where the castle begins,” Adem says. “I hope you’re prepared. They will surely know we’re coming by now.”

Quietly the group climbs the stairs up into the basement of the castle. Torches flicker at their side, and as they emerge from the small entrance, they find themselves in a sort of catacombs. To their left and right are small alcoves, some of them hidden around corners, others sitting right out there in the open.

Snarling can be heard as the heroes emerge from the stairs, and as they look behind them, they spot two gibbets holding enraged corpses. Both of the corpses are trying very hard to escape their cage, but the metal seems sturdy enough to keep them in.

Skeletons litter the area. Some are lying neatly in their alcoves, others are lying on the floor and look almost as if they were trying to escape something.

Revas and Rhea, because of their positioning, can see someone moving in the distance. Beyond a massive metal fence they spot not only bookshelves and books, but also a person. The woman is short, her hair is almost white, and even from this distance her eyes seem to have an eerie glow to them. Revas recognises her as the woman he’s shortly seen in an eluvian shard.

It almost looks as if she can feel them look at her, as she lifts her head and looks directly at them.

“So you’ve come for me, then,” the woman says as she walks a few steps towards them.

“You can’t stop what I’m doing, so why not go back to whatever backwater you came from and call it a day? The Liberatori are falling apart because of you, but my house is stronger than ever. They will hold off your troops, just as I will hold off this pathetic little group of yours.”

She cackles wildly and then, with a flick of her wrist sends a blast of force towards the group. The mind blast knocks everyone to the ground, and Sargis and Rhea are stunned by the blow on top of that.

From their current position, the group has a good view into the well-lit room Lutatia had been standing in before. Two bookshelves are leaning against the left side of the fence, with books strewn all around them. Tossed over furniture, broken items, and one intact bookstand fill the rest of the room. A brazier lights the central area.

Further to the right, an arcane pattern has been drawn onto the floor with the help of blood. Three elves lie motionless on the bloody pattern, which holds a glowing red crystal formation at its centre.

The hallway itself is empty, and long and dark. Magistra Lutatia’s house colours decorate the fence.

In the distance, the heroes can make out some light.

The hallway ends in a room with a single brazier, with a door leading north into what looks like a large room.

While Sargis and Valeria move forward the mundane way, Rhea uses her magic to ignore the fence keeping her from following the magistra, and Revas follows suit by throwing his dagger Blinkblade at Rhea, making sure she is okay with the idea of being stabbed by him before he actually throws his blade.

They try to circle around Magistra Lutatia so they can attack from two sides as a group, not taking into account that it will take Valeria and Sargis a while to catch up. These two end up in a large and dark room, which is seemingly empty. But once they step food inside the sparsely lit area, they find themselves in a fight with two blood mages and their two crazed subjects, feeling blood being forced out of their bodies as they fight to survive. Blood pools out of their mouth, nose, and eyes, giving them a freakishly haunting appearance.

Rhea and Revas meanwhile take a closer look at the room they are in. Two bookshelves are leaning against the left side of the fence, with books strewn all around them. Tossed over furniture, broken items, and one intact bookstand fill the rest of the room. A brazier lights the central area.

Further to the right, an arcane pattern has been drawn onto the floor with the help of blood. Three elves lie motionless on the bloody pattern, which holds a glowing red crystal formation at its centre.

A quick look around tells Rhea that this room will take too long to properly look at, and so she only takes the book placed on the elegant bookstand, called Blood Magic: Volume VI — Human Sacrifice. Once that is stowed away, the two of them charge forward to try and catch up with Magistra Lutatia.

They rush past five gibbets hanging near the wall, two of them occupied with enraged corpses trying to get out.
On one side of this room a broken chair lies in front of a table which is stocked with torture implements. Saws, knives, hooks, prongs, scissors, and all kinds of other utensils lie on the dark wood.

To the right of the table is a torturing rack, and a door nearby leads out of the room. It is currently blocked by a massive cage. Revas and Rhea manage to squeeze through the opening between cage and door and keep moving forward. The first thing they see in this room is an old printing press which has clearly been modified so it can crush hands and other appendages.

Open doorways lead to the left and right, and just north of the two is a closed metal door.

Sargis and Valeria meanwhile are still dealing with the mages, and when one of the blood mages loses control and turns into an abomination, things seem really dire for a while, before the two heartbreakers are covered in gore but still quite alive.

With the party split into two groups and no means of communication, it’s hard to say what will become of them as they explore the dungeon below Jainen Castle. Will they catch up to the magistra or will they fall to one of her many minions and traps?

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Episode #117
Emotional Rollercoaster

07.04.841 TE – Raven’s Roost
Revas, Rhea, Sargis, Valeria

Raven's Glen

RAVEN’S ROOST

Ashday, 07.04.841 TE
Morning

As the pastel coloured landscape slowly drifts around her, Rhea finds herself trapped in a situation she wasn’t quite expecting. Before her, armed with her weapons and steeling themselves for battle, are three other Rhea copies. Magic fills the air with an oppressive weight, choking Rhea as she recognises the hints of the Fade.

The calm is broken when the other Rhea copies charge her, encircling the original and making the battle a fight for her life almost immediately. It takes a lot of dexterity to dodge the hits of an enemy, a whole other problem when facing off against herself. They knew her tricks, her thinking, knew the limitations of her movement and the length of her reach. Blades quickly find purchase past the defences of her armour, and blood drifts off into nothingness as Rhea throws up a wall of shadow to try and put some distance between her and her attackers.

With no other members of the Heartbreaker Gang to back her up, Rhea is caught between a rock and a hard place as she feels her lifeblood draining from her with each successful hit by the copies. Just as things are starting to look grim and the world begins to spin wildly around her, she takes a moment to breathe and slash down the final version of her that was hounding her step even in the nebulous void of her spellwork.

She’s shaky for a moment, but as she finally calms she begins to feel it. Deep breaths fill her lungs, uncloud her thoughts, and provide her a moment’s respite as she stays within the comforting darkness of her shadow spell. A sense of relief and peace washes over her as the battlefield starts to drift away like a bad dream, and a resurgence of energy awakens within her and brings her back to herself and the tower room which she had passed out in just moments before. It takes her a moment to get up from the floor and to pick up the pieces of her ritual that are left over, but her steps are hurried as she exits the tower.

The first person in her mind and heart is her son, who she cradles in her arms and kisses his forehead gently as she whispers soft words of love and thankfulness that she has the chance to see him again. She keeps him close as she rests on her bed and studies through her various books and the journal from her mother that she always keeps within arm’s reach at home. Reading the hints of Adalita in the margins to her son, the two spend the morning peacefully until lunchtime.

Back in the world of mortals, Sargis wakes up and has breakfast before seeking out Valeria. It doesn’t take him long to find the warrior, as she sticks close to Arna as often as possible. Just a few words to a servant or two points him in the right direction, and he approaches the two with concerns brought forth by the people of Raven’s Glenn. Rumours have begun circulating again about Rhea and Liam, bringing attention to Borin’s words about demons potentially being involved in Liam’s creation or perhaps even Liam himself.

Valeria herself is confused by the conversation, her own thoughts leaning more towards Liam being an unfortunate victim to a demon’s meddling. But she attempts to assuage Sargis’ fears with talk of perhaps doing a cleansing ritual. Maybe that would calm everyone’s nerves and silence the whispers once and for all. That and it wouldn’t hurt to do some additional research to try and find out more about demons and the place they come from.

Keeping these words in mind, Sargis leaves to go speak with Bert, or so he says. Mention of rocks being dropped off the tower into the lake gives Valeria pause, so she calls up the guards and has them go keep an eye on things just in case such experiments might take a different turn than stated. With the guards sent off in that direction, Valeria looks to Arna with concern. More things pile up on each other and get twisted, Arna mentions her chat with Faustus soon which leaves the reclusive qunari Salem free for a chat. It takes a little more than that to calm Valeria down, but capable hands help massage the knots out of her shoulders before they take hold. The two talk of simpler things as Arna plays with Valeria’s hair before they part ways and go about their tasks for the morning.

Revas makes his way into the tower, weaving around the servants who might mention his presence as he heads towards Lady Affraic’s room. He finds her in a conversation with Lachtna, and from the look on her face Revas figures out quickly that she seems to not have slept well the night before. She greets him as the two ladies taper off their chat in his presence. It takes him a moment to steel himself, but he tells Lady Affraic that Valeria shouldn’t be punished for the crimes he himself committed in regards to the potion recipe being given to the people of Eagle Eye Hold. She had no idea of the plan at all, only hearing about it later once Revas had already gotten the recipe from Bela and given it to the potion maker in town.

Lady Affraic listens to Revas’ words intently, and as he explains what was what she looks reflective before she looks him in the eye again. She admits that her emotions had gotten the better of her the other day. However the matter of this breaking of a rule is far greater than dealing with the two members of the Heartbreaker Gang. Revas is a member of the gang, but not of the Order like Valeria is. And because of that any rule breaking falls upon those who are members as well as keeping the rest of the members in line and from doing as they please. The only one she can openly punish for a crime and set up as an example is Valeria.

This connection with the Avvar also has her uncertain. If they are allowed to act in Valeria’s lands unchecked while also having access to the potion, then there’d be little to stop them if a war ever started up again. There’s also mention of taxation on the Avvar on Valeria’s lands so as to keep things moving between the Avvar and Clayne and have an understanding between them and Lady Affraic, but all Revas can do when faced with such a topic is look a little lost in the political brambles he now finds himself entangled in.

As Valeria wanders away from her room in search of Salem, she finds someone else crossing her path instead. Looking confident but much calmer than before, Velenna steps in front of Valeria. After the threats and yelling yesterday she apologises to Valeria for such words and explains why she got so angry so quickly at the news. She was upset because Borin, one she cares for just as much now as she did before, had spoken with Valeria using these mysterious means instead of her.

It stings to know that he still avoids her even now, and seeing the person who had spoken to him so recently only added to her anger at the time. Valeria accepts her apology, doing her best to mention keeping Velenna in the loop should such sightings or potential capture of the wayward dwarf be possible. With a nod and a straightening out of her dress, Velenna smiles tiredly and heads off and away from the warrior to get some fresh air.

Finding Salem was easy, but the anger at Valeria for her messing with blood magic takes the Avvar warrior back for a moment. There’s mumbled apologies, and a mention that she acted on instinct rather than thought the whole thing through, which Salem takes with a grain of salt as she looks at Valeria and her soft heartedness. Not that she herself could talk, as it was a trait the two of them shared. But if Valeria could just hide it a little more that might keep her out of trouble more often than not. Salem sighs at that and shakes the thought out of her mind before the two switch to a much more spirited topic, if not just as troublesome.

Once again acting the fool, Valeria has found herself in a situation with Leonara once more. The mage, using her skill with words and higher brain function when the two of them speak, has asked Valeria to escort her around Raven’s Roost and Glenn so that she might come to know her new home a bit better. Flustered and beside herself, Valeria asks for advice from the qunari. As soon as the conversation turns to fashion however, Salem drags the hopeless softie off to visit Rhea.

Finding Rhea in her room still with baby Liam, Rhea quickly starts to work on sprucing Valeria up as soon as words are spoken about fashion and Valeria wanting to present herself better. While Rhea works, Valeria slips up and mentions the rumours she heard from Sargis. Still feeling a little vulnerable from her close call that morning, Rhea feels the exasperation weigh down her shoulders.

There’s an attempt to distract Rhea again with mention of the debt Salem has with Rhea, and with a few clever words the debt is paid. Salem can now drink again at her leisure, and she prepares herself to enjoy the first drink she’d had in awhile while dealing with a set of particular journals from Cato that Valeria slips to her before the qunari can escape into the village again. Guess nothing comes for free, even from Valeria sometimes.

Salem and Valeria quickly leave Rhea’s room with her successfully distracted by the conversation for at least a few minutes, and the two head towards lunch and chat when they get there. With Sargis well into his lunch ales and chats with the villagers, the two find most of their conversation to be between themselves as they wait for the others to join them. A secret manages to slip through the stony exterior Salem tries to put up as a facade, and Valeria pays close attention to the once and a blue moon opportunity.

The qunari takes a moment to drink an ale, before quietly mentioning that she and Faustus have been close lately. There’s a quick denial of anything further in the relationship, but after hearing Valeria’s tone shift when talking about Leonara perhaps it rubbed off on her just a little bit. With the words finally spoken out into the air, Valeria keeps that fresh in her mind as the two chat about simpler things than feelings and the future.

Back at the lad pad, Revas talks with Ardis as they sit as comfortably as they can outside on the steps of their home. Ardis seems more uncomfortable than usual as he speaks, picking his words with the utmost care as his draconic tail twitches and rasps against the wood. He speaks of Sathurian and the questions he tossed at him as he held him captive. Most of them were about his life before, of where he came from and who he had been. And when Ardis had trouble coming up with the words and spoken in Elvish, Sathurian’s anger only darkened.

Revas touches the back of Ardis’ hand comfortingly as this seems to only bring him pain at the reminder of what was done to him. It takes a few minutes before he speaks again, staring down at his clawed feet as he nudges the ground and notices the tearing of grass and dirt as he does so. His words next catch Revas by surprise as Ardis reveals his lack of sleep lately and the cause of it. Plagued by strange dreams, Ardis seems to be having flashes of memories that were not his own and instead from Valeria. Sights of snow and unfamiliar human faces, as well as fire and confinement now have started drifting through Ardis’ mind and cause him uncertainty as to how or why.

When Ardis goes to hold Revas’ hand, the small elf pulls away slightly more out of reflex and being lost in deep thought about what might be happening to Ardis than anything else. The conversation halts after that, an uneasy feeling between them grows and grows until Revas himself breaks the silence. After what had happened to Ardis and the strain it put on Revas and his heart throughout that whole ordeal, he still feels love for Ardis but this new change has made it hard to see the future pan out as he once did.

Though difficult to say, he mentions wanting to be friends with Ardis, and the draak agrees. Yet even still, a new weight presses down on his shoulders and he places a hand over his heart as reality starts to set in. Too much change, too much pain, and a difference between them drove a schism that might not be able to be fixed by even Ardis’ skilled hands. He’s quick to reassure Revas that he’s alright, but can’t watch him leave as Revas heads off to find Valeria and tell her about the dreams and what all it might mean.

At lunch, Rhea surprises the others in the room as she brings Sargis his food as well as her own. There’s a mention of a conversation with Bert as she digs into her food, and Sargis eyes his plate suspiciously before he eats and listens to the conversation. Perhaps the mention of the rumour hadn’t left Rhea’s mind so easily, but at least there was a moderate peace at least for now until the culprit for such rumours was found. As the conversation continues however, Valeria finds herself in Rhea’s crosshairs as she skilfully switches the conversation to Valeria’s want to court Leonara. Valeria scrambles to defend herself, mentioning a want to do the right thing as laughs at her expense begin to start up. Just a little bit of revenge for speaking to Sargis on such topics.

Showing up in the middle of Valeria trying to plead her case, Revas decides to lend a helping hand in a way and asks to speak to Valeria separately. Not sure what all this could be about, Valeria follows and listens as Revas tells her about the dreams. She seems confused for a moment, but a thought crashes into her mind as she makes mention of her part in the blood magic ritual to bring Ardis into his new body. Maybe that had something to do with his current connection with her, at least by way of dreams and memories. What this meant in the long term is up in the air, but a mage might need to be talked to to see if this could have any adverse effects with Ardis and his general wellbeing.

The two also talk about the guilt Valeria feels for such decisions and the things she has been doing lately. All she wants to do is be stronger and to be better for everyone, but her heart leads her in wild directions that only make things appear worse off than before. Revas mentions feeling the same about his own situation, and the two take at least some comfort that they aren’t the only members of the Heartbreaker Gang with their hearts on their sleeves.

To try and change the topic to something a little easier, Valeria mentions the deal with Jori and the search for their mom. With the potential connection to Vic and the mysterious circumstances of her creation, the two are now armed with new information and plan to make a journey to Vic’s location one day to try and see if their theories might prove true.

Parting ways as they make plans to do just that, Revas goes off to have lunch with the lads while Valeria turns towards the doorway to the dining hall. The conversation she had just left before going to talk to Revas might very well still be on everyone’s mind. And that could only spell disaster as Arna and Leonara could show up at any moment and hear the rumours for themselves. Would it be a walk into a calm and cordial dinner conversation for Valeria? Or would she find herself stumbling into a lioness’ den with her heart on the menu for such foolishness. All she can do is take a deep breath, square her shoulders, and open the door to see just what awaits her beyond.

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Episode #116
Looking For: Support Group For Newborn Draaks And Their Partners

06.04.841–07.04.841 TE – Raven’s Roost
Revas, Rhea, Sargis, Valeria

Ardis

RAVEN’S ROOST

Fireday, 06.04.841 TE
Morning

Whispers start to spread through the citizens of Raven’s Glen as Ardis and Revas head back to their home. Ardis has many people craning their necks to look into the new toothy maw of his draconic face. Revas can feel the waves of unease and tension coming off of the usually reclusive man, and all this attention isn’t helping that problem one bit. When a few words catch Revas’ attention, he sends a dangerous look to all who speak against his partner and several scurry out of sight or at least make themselves look busy.

Passing the halla pen, Revas and Ardis can sense their unease as they pace about and Elgara steps between them and the does. Ardis stops in his tracks, immediately shifting into his old stance as he makes himself less threatening. His words in elvhen are gentle, and though Elgara flicks his ears questioningly he starts to calm down after a few minutes and goes back to eating grass in the pen.

When things are settled, Revas can watch the tip of Ardis’ tail twitch and a little bit of weight disappear from his shoulders as they get to the aravel. It’s there that Illen waits, welcoming them back from their trip. Oleo and Wulf invite everyone into the cabin, and though a look of nervousness and worry flashes in their eyes occasionally as Ardis tries to figure out how to sit and make himself look smaller, they seem happy to see the duo home safe and sound. Despite the reactions from the halla and family at Ardis’ new appearance, Eira is the one creature who greets Ardis just as she does every time he enters the door. The wagging tail going a mile a minute and the bouncing puppy energy helps everyone to relax a bit as lunch is served and peace fills the space as chatter and smiles go around.

Carrying Liam and speaking to him softly in Rivaini, Rhea searches for the soldier amongst the ranks that seemed to know Braedon’s uncle. She had spoken to him briefly at her husband’s funeral, but hadn’t the heart to really get into it until now. Watching Revas get Ardis practically from the dead and be willing to move heaven and earth to do so brought the fire back to her heart as she struggles to find and hold onto the memory of Braedon amidst the lies and slander coming from Denerim and its magister.

She finds the soldier relaxing in the barracks after just getting off his shift, and he quickly moves to stand at attention as he recognises her immediately. She waves him off, giving a kind greeting in Tevene before asking him a few questions to try and unravel the mystery a bit more about her husband. The soldier, seeing that this isn’t a more formal kind of conversation offers his cot which Rhea gladly accepts after setting her light cotton half-cloak down on top of it and sits there comfortably while Liam wiggles his arms lightly before looking off towards the rippling reflections on the wall as a glass of ale catches the light from a candle.

Throughout their conversation, Rhea feels the eyes of every soldier that passes through the barracks. To each one that pauses a moment too long, she gives a sideways glance and a knowing smile before they quickly make themselves look busy or hurry on to where they are going. Listening intently to the soldier’s every word and keeping an eye out for any potential moments of falsehood, Rhea learns a few interesting tidbits that catch her attention.

Braedon’s uncle was the one to teach Braedon how to fight. And it was through stories of training and the usual soldier’s jokes that she got a feel for how Braedon used to be. He trained hard every chance he got, working to make himself more capable than he used to be. His uncle may have trained him, but Braedon himself forged his own path to who he came to be later. When the names Angus and Liam (Braedon’s uncles with the latter being on his mother’s side) are mentioned, she asks about them and their potential connections or status as of today. Though the news for their whereabouts are uncertain, the soldier recalls that they were a minor noble family that potentially came from the Ruswold Arling. She keeps these words close to her heart and feels that at least she’s making progress to disproving Augustus’ words and freeing Braedon from the jeers and calumny soon enough.

With a few words of thanks and a warm smile to the soldier who helped with a potential lead towards Braedon’s family, Rhea collects herself and heads back out into the sunshine. Baby Liam seems dazzled by the sunlight and blinks and squints his eyes before rubbing them, and all Rhea can do is laugh softly and kiss her son on the forehead while shifting him in her arms so that her hair blocks the sunlight just a bit for him. As Liam settles down a bit once more, Rhea heads off to her next destination of the day as she makes her way easily through the streets of Raven’s Glen to Taara’s shop. Things at the shop are looking a little worse for wear after the battle with Sathurian, but otherwise Taara greets her with a smile as she prepares a small book that she writes her tailoring notes into.

The shopping takes a moment, long enough for Liam to fall asleep in Rhea’s arms as she and Taara tour the shop and look at the new fabrics for some of Rhea’s new outfit requests for a fancier occasion. She also asks for one to be made for baby Liam who is a bit fussy about being measured but passes back out as soon as that’s done. As she and Taara talk styles and future work to be commissioned as accessory pieces would always be welcomed with just the right outfit, Rhea makes a promise to talk to the group about one of Taara’s concerns. With the problem of so many attacks happening and causing major damage for the people of Raven’s Glen, a request has been made to make a protective wall around the village so as to mitigate damage at least a little bit. Taara also requests that Rhea gather some of the latest sketches and news of outfits at the Landsmeet so as to keep up with the new trends and make even more pieces for Rhea and others later on.

Just as Rhea leaves to tell Marissa about Angus to help with her search for info about Braedon’s family, Sargis slips inside Taara’s shop to make his own request. Taara eyes him questioningly, as usually anything coming from Sargis can send the listener for a loop. Hearing him ask for a leather dagger harness for aesthetic purposes is one of those unusual requests, but something she might be able to get some assistance with by reaching out to some contacts within the village. Surprised at such a request but more than willing to try and help out, Taara starts getting measurements while Sargis describes the tool work on the leather to make things just right for the look he’s going for.

Having his new commission being worked on means it was then time to go for drinks in the tavern. Sargis is always the man to drink with and talk to when there’s confusion or uncertainty in Raven’s Glen. Farmers after a long day or shop owners heading in on their break tend to flock around him for stories and information as his words lift their spirits and get them the latest information of a certain kind. Drinking ale like it is water, Sargis assuages some of their fears and concerns about the changes happening to the land and the attack that had happened just the other day. It was more action than they were used to before the gang arrived, but at least they are there to fight and keep them safe as best they can.

He also hears a few rumours as more drinks get passed around and a few laughs about an old adventuring story help loosen people up. Lord Bryton seems to be in a bad mood lately, and some are saying it might be for want of a woman that he could no longer have. There’s also word of Lady Affraic, who seems to have taken up a more active role in leading than her father as of late. He keeps this in mind as a familiar figure sits next to him on a bar stool. Lachtna listens in to his stories, and despite being an ever listening ear for Lady Affraic she seems to settle into life in Raven’s Glen quite well when she lets herself relax a bit.

As the group has gone off to do their own business, Valeria and Arna stay in the war room. Valeria has begun walking around the table, eyeing the map and its locations carefully before making her way over to Arna’s side. She stands there silently, shifting from foot to foot until Arna’s hand takes a hold of hers to ground her to the moment and not her own wandering thoughts. Lady Affraic throwing her weight around when it came to the recipe for the potion was understandable, but the way in which she did so chaffed quite a bit. It was one thing to be called to Lady Affraic’s office, another to be told what to do in one’s own home. Seeing the signs of a potential rash decision, Arna counsels Valeria as the latter speaks about such problems and worries. Better to leave Lady Affraic to cool off for a night, her temper might improve with enough time to drink and decompress.

It takes some time for Valeria to ease up enough to look away from the map, but after a nod of agreement Arna instead refocuses Valeria’s attention on other things. The two of them walk out of the war room, and as they meander their way through the halls Arna tells Valeria about a few things she keeps for just such occasions. When Valeria looks too far inwards or gets stuck behind a wall of thought, sometimes one of the things to do is break through with something that can shake it up.

She talks about getting sneaking lessons from Drynne, who had been dodging guards and Velenna whenever he could. Better to put his skills to good use and put his mind to work rather than just try to make him be something other than himself. While Valeria gets focused on asking just what Arna planned to do with her new skills Valeria stops in her tracks after finding out that Arna led her straight to Velenna.

The look Velenna gives the two is questioning, but upon seeing Valeria try to shrink away is quick to move between her and her path of escape before looking down at her despite the height difference. There’s the usual bout of mumbling and meandering conversation from Valeria but a few pokes from Velenna gets her to tell the story of Borin meeting her in a strange magical fashion.

The resulting anger is understandable, and the frustration at the dwarf speaking to Valeria rather than her is apparent. The amount of poking, prodding, and angry signing leaves even Arna backing up a step as she and her wife try to wait out the storm of Velenna’s wrath. But eventually she manages to take a breath and steadies herself before heading off to get herself an almond cake for comfort.

The two look at one another now that Velenna is gone and stand there silently before Arna warns Valeria that if the warrior ends up doing something like leaving messages with others and not speaking to her herself that she’d learn how to use a knife and go after the warrior just to bring her home. The warrior blinks in response, looking confused and a little intimidated before seeing the smile on Arna’s face. A job well done by Arna who leads Valeria off by the hand once more while she jokes and laughs down the hall. Her previous storm clouds of thought temporarily forgotten.

After lunch, Revas makes his way back to Raven’s Roost and into the war room, going in once everyone else has left. He studies the maps and makes notes about where he remembered Vic’s location was, or at least the direction she was heading. He might need to help with charting a route to her, despite his previous misgivings about letting the gang know where she might have gone.

After the gang destroyed the crystal at the top of the tower and have draak Ardis now back home safely, there might come a time when they might be able to help Vic and her plight. The gang has grown since the last time they met Vic, and the hostility out of fear has practically disappeared by this point for those that are currently there at home. Maybe in helping Ardis remember who he was they could finally help Vic remember who she was before. Only time will tell.

Valeria finds herself left to her own devices after lunch, and she wanders over into the kitchen to have a talk with Jori as the promise she previously kept is finally starting to get some new leads. It doesn’t take long to find them, since there are plenty of things to wash up and then prep for dinner with Bert’s instruction. They look at Valeria with a thoughtful expression, then quickly become serious as Valeria asks to speak with them for a moment about some information she had learned from Revas.

Based on a conversation with Revas, who had spied on the priests in the temple of Lusacan, there had been several bodies left in the ritual circle near the dragon eggs. Though he didn’t know it at the time, one of them fit the description of Jori’s mother, and were this to be true that meant that one of the draak could very well be her. Considering that Vic was one of those draak found at the scene near the body in question, Valeria tells Jori about this potential lead but warns not to get their hopes up too high about this. Most of it is guess work, and even with new information showing up with each glance or dabble with such strange magics there’s very little to go on for certainties. Despite this they seem very excited, and it takes a few minutes and Bert’s request for help to get them calm enough to move forward with their tasks for the day.

With that business now handled, Valeria makes her way to Leonara’s new quarters to try and see if there was anything to be done to make her more comfortable before things got stirred up a bit by the gang and their plans. The mage is quick to pick up on Valeria’s eagerness to please, and smiles as she asks after a visit to the librarian and perhaps a place to get new clothes. The warrior promises, happy to help and though it would mean stepping too close to Taara’s shop it would be worth it if it helps make the new changes in Leonara’s life even a little bit easier. Leonara mentions however that such acts might hurt Valeria’s reputation, as whispers have already started about her presence in these lands so soon after causing damage at the behest of her previous employer. Valeria waves it off and makes it as clear as she can that though she does rely on the advice and opinions of others in her circle, when it came to matters of who she would trust or be willing to work with that was all her at the end of the day.

Back at The Barn, Revas finds his way through the crowd to Sargis, and tries to relax a bit. With the nature of the tavern as it is, word gets around quickly and the whispers Revas heard about Ardis now switches targets to another easy target that’s close to the Heartbreaker Gang. Word of Fade Walker Rhea is often on the people’s mind, especially as rumours start to spread about Baby Liam and a potential deal in The Fade to bring him into this side of the Veil in the first place. Revas, just as before, isn’t having any of it and is quick to shut such conversations down while Sargis looks on with his usual look of admiration when Revas shows a willingness to speak up and speak loudly. When things quiet down, Sargis toasts Revas for his show of heart and the two fall into easy conversation about the adventures before.

Soon enough others come to join them as Valeria, Arna, and Velenna find themselves back at their usual table with unspoken orders already being prepared to serve. The group gathers together, drinking deep into their cups to the point that even Velenna starts to feel it. Before his mind is awash in the comfortingly muddled thoughts due to drink, Revas speaks to Valeria about jealousy. Val had managed to do what many might consider impossible in finding her mother after so many years in slavery and being kept apart from one another. Some aren’t so lucky, and even those who stay close to their families come to lose them just the same to one danger of the world or another.

To that all Valeria can do is smile as she looks about the bar at all those she has come to know and care for as she speaks. While her own identity and family had remained a mystery to her for so many years until recently, the thing she had come to realise in that time was that family is also what you make of it. Even if she lost someone or was separated by distance or circumstance, in her heart she feels that maybe now she could still survive such a blow if she could continue to rely on the friends around her to be there to see the light after so much darkness. Taking comfort in those words, Revas seems to soften a bit and happily drinks into the night as things get rowdy as they always do in this group of friends and family.

It doesn’t take long for several people to start passing out, a regular state of being here in The Barn late in the evening. Valeria, still sober and ever watchful, looks after the others until given the nod by Terry. He will look after the boys and Lachtna who have managed to entangle themselves around a bar stool each as they lay sleeping in a pile. For the Velenna however, after some rough news and a growing headache at Borin’s actions, she finds herself relying on Valeria’s strength as the warrior carries her to her quarters before heading up the hill to the tower hand in hand with a slightly tipsy Arna as the night comes to a close and everyone gets some well deserved rest.

A gentle hand shakes Revas awake from his awkward position on the floor. Light filters in through the windows in The Barn, and others are starting to stir from the place they passed out in as Terry hands out hangover cures to those that need it. The young elf looks up into the worried face of Oleo, who came looking for him in the morning after the other lads and Illen didn’t see him come home that night.

It takes a few minutes for Revas to properly get his feet under him as they walk back to the cabin, but with Oleo offering an arm to keep him steady the two manage to make it in time for breakfast. The others are relieved to see Revas, and start their usual morning conversations as he sits down at the table. It feels like nothing is different, no change in the mood or atmosphere. Even with Ardis in a new shape and form, the only thing new to contend with is his appetite. With good company and plenty of time to prepare a little more to satisfy him, Revas is back home with the ones he loves and relishes in the warmth that washes over him in that moment.


Ashday, 07.04.841 TE
Morning

Rhea on the other hand has plans this morning. Preparation for the ritual has been underway since first light, and after laying claim to the top of the tower for the moment she sets out the ingredients and draws out the circles she needs to get things started. Little Liam is nowhere to be seen, kept away from the potentially powerful magics and is being looked after by Bert for the time being. If things work out the way she has read, then she’ll be more prepared to look after herself and her son than ever before. All she needs to do now…is drink it.

The potion is off an odd consistency, but the taste is what overpowers her senses as she powers through and gasps for air afterwards. She sits there, she waits, and in a moment of uncertainty she reaches out to read the book again to see if there was something she might have been missing. Yet the second she reaches out the room goes black before she even feels herself start to fall.

All around her, strange shapes like clouds and clocks float slowly around. Bright pastels blanket her surroundings in a feeling of calm, but the whispers send a wave of shock through her system as she quickly turns her head to look. These are voices she recognises, ones that make no sense to hear in this space as she looks up and sees them. Standing together and testing the weight of their weapons, eyeing the newcomer with grins and a look of distaste is Rhea herself. Not just one, but three, who all become silent when their eyes meet.

After a journey home from a hasty rescue, the Heartbreaker Gang seeks the comforts of home and relishes in the peace that washes over them. But not all seems to be going as they thought as whispers surround them and uncertainty clings to the very edges of shadows. Will Ardis be able to come to terms with his new form amidst the people of Raven’s Glen? Will the battle between Valeria and Lady Affraic finally come to a head? Or will Rhea be the first to fall prey to the toughest opponent she is yet to face. Rhea herself. The morning light shines on Raven’s Roost, but perhaps all might not get to enjoy the sunshine without a few clouds in the sky.

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Episode #115
They landed. It's a short sentence, but contained a lot of incident.

05.04.841–06.04.841 TE – Great Bear Lake & Raven’s Roost
Revas, Rhea, Sargis, Valeria
Title by Terry Pratchett

Dakosaurus

GREAT BEAR LAKE

Thunderday, 05.04.841 TE
Morning

Taking the first breath of fresh air after their brief foray into the chilling manor and terrifying tower, the Heartbreaker Gang patch up their wounds and give themselves a moment to think. Arriving back amongst the grass and trees so close to Great Bear Lake is a welcome sight after Denerim. And though the group came back mostly unharmed, Ardis on the other hand, finds himself at a loss when it comes to his current state of being.

Ardis’ scales shine with black iridescence, sending a cascade of light across Revas’ skin as he tries to comfort him in his moment of uncertainty and confusion. No longer was Ardis the tanned and beautifully muscled half elf he once was, instead the hulking draconic figure now sits dejected and lost next to Revas.

Meanwhile, focused on the task set before her, Rhea begins to doff her armor and prepares to go for a swim to gather the plants she needs for her ritual. Her time spent in Bastion and traveling the seas on her father’s ship has made her more than well equipped to dive into the depths of the sea, nevermind a still lake. Her confidence in her ability is strong as usual and, though she throws a distrustful glance back at Leonara, she strides into the waters with ease.

Holding out the books and notes she’s collected, Valeria stands near the mage in question and shows her what she’s found in Cato’s room. Though more for asking questions and trying to find out more info about what happened to Ardis and perhaps any way to reverse it, Valeria finds herself drawn to Leonara and her careful poise and stance as she eyes the party with uncertainty. Twice did Leonara come to exchange blows or words of ill omen with the Heartbreaker Gang, and in one moment she herself brought Valeria to Denerim.

It’s easy to say that tensions are high with the gang and their compatriots when it comes to such a person. But Valeria’s want to keep the peace and help those who show even the slightest hint of compassion or put effort into doing the right thing overrides any worry about what that person had done in their past. That and Leonara and her striking looks are far too easy on the eyes for someone like Valeria to ignore for even a second when they share a look and Leonara has a glint in her eye that sends the warrior stumbling over herself as she points out passages in the book she holds awkwardly in her hands.

Noting Valeria’s lack of attention, Revas steps away from Ardis and sees Valeria flinch when he suddenly appears next to Leonara. Taking out an amulet he has in his special secreted pouch, he hands it to her gently. An amulet for boosting a mage’s power, left abandoned during the burning of the tower in Denerim. She takes it, looking upon it curiously before giving him a kind nod before refocusing on the flustered Valeria and her books.

Submerged beneath the dark blue waters of the lake, Rhea welcomes the weightless freedom that comes with being here and pauses for a moment to take it in. The coolness of the water, the flow of the current just barely perceptible as it moves towards the sea down the river that passes by Raven’s Glen. Her hair dances around her, tied back just enough to not get in the way but still loose enough to feel the soothing touch of the water moving it about with a comforting gentleness she’d known at times when the sea was as smooth as glass.

She knows she has enough time to spare, the air in her lungs will last long enough to gather these plants and then some, so why worry. She descends lightly, her eyes scanning the waving vegetation as smaller fish scatter as she gets close. The pale green leaves catch her attention as she brushes past a large stone, and she prepares the tools she carried with her into the depths.

It takes her a few moments, the plant’s roots sift deep into the mud and sediment and prove to be a little tougher than expected. After gathering the three plants she needs she prepares to swim back to the surface, if a bit reluctantly, when a large moving shadow catches her attention.

If she wasn’t as used to the levels of light within water, she might have written it off as a trick of the light, but she sees it moving faster towards her and with well trained reactions she swims quickly to the surface and back towards shore. Even those with plenty of experience swimming know better than to let unknown beings of the deep get too close. She swims and gets halfway back to shore again before risking a look back to try and figure out if the creature is friend or foe.

Meanwhile, at shore, several minutes pass as Rhea dives down into the water. The rest of the gang waits before heading home to recollect themselves in the comfort of Raven’s Roost, whiling away the minutes with books and whispered conversation. This, however, can only keep one’s attention for so long, especially with everything so quiet and still, and so Sargis is the first to take the opportunity to use this new mage in the way the gang has become well acquainted with. For mages more often than not have knowledge of items and their magic that still leaves the gang uncertain after the incident with Rhea in Caer Bronach.

He has her look over his daggers, a new acquisition amongst many. And though he isn’t one to dwell too much on an item’s magic qualities, if they’re going to be on his person and look fancy along with his outfit then better to not have them be cursed after all. He frowns in disappointment as Leonara looks them over carefully and shakes her head, saying that they don’t appear to be magical or cursed in any way from what she can tell. Maybe one day he’ll find that little trick up his sleeve item to use in a grand battle as a way to have the final laugh against a villain or foe. For now his wit will have to do.

Switching into an easy conversation with Valeria after noticing her usual floundering, Sargis speaks with her and Leonara about what they found in Denerim. Revas meanwhile has moved away from the trio and found a tree to lean on near Ardis to watch over him.The new draak looks down at his claws, flexing them and eyeing the nails with an expression Revas finds harder to read than he’s used to. The occasional tail tip flicks catch both of them off guard, and a small sound Revas makes has Ardis looking for him with a questioning look in his eyes.

Quickly looking away, Revas tries to look casual as a sense of unease starts to build in his gut between the shock and flutters of happiness at seeing Ardis in any state other than death as he first believed. Upon doing so however, he sees the faint ripples in the water and a quickly moving Rhea trying to swim away from him that puts him right back on high alert and moving away from the love of his life to address the situation at hand.

Surging through the waters towards Rhea, the four shadows catch up with her surprisingly quickly. Even with her head start one manages to dig its teeth into her calf before she manages to pull away and quickly makes her way to the shore. Behind her, the creatures refuse to stop after getting a taste for her blood, and the toothy maws, followed by smooth looking bodies, launch themselves to shore and begin their assault on Rhea and the Heartbreaker Gang in force.

The battle doesn’t take too long, as three dakosauri (which are native to Tevinter) go down now that they’re on shore and much slower because of it. They get in a few solid bites, more blood spilling onto the mud and rocks of the shore as the gang fights them off. But as the last of the creatures slips beneath the water’s surface after the rest of its pod lays lifeless on the shore, the gang turns towards their usual business.

Blades come out, offered containers and ways to carry off their bounty are handed to Revas and the skinning begins while Leonara watches from the safety of the trees silently. The group is efficient in their tasks, making quick work of the creatures, whose skin turns out to be rough like sandpaper, before returning to their usual state of casual calm. It’s quite a sight to those not used to the gang’s want for new materials even if they have no particular use for it at the time. Even Ardis watches on questioningly after settling back down once he sees that Revas is safe.

Returning to the woods, the group decides to camp here for the night, not able to return to Wutherford or get back home before nightfall. They set up camp within a more covered thicket of trees and try to relax as best they can as they start a low fire and rest by their tents before sleep. During this time, Valeria sits down with the mirror shard as she does most evenings and speaks to Arna and Faustus just to make sure everything is okay back home. As she talks to them, Rhea takes out her elvhen stone to check on her son Liam. It has become a nightly ritual at this point to have the babysitter hold the stone up to little Liam so Rhea can hear his soft breathing or his tiny babbles and cries. But tonight, she hears nothing when she activates it and holds it up to her ear.

Panic starts to thrum through Rhea’s heart as she quickly scrambles over to Valeria and the mirror shard to have her sign to those back home and ask if Liam is okay. According to Faustus and Arna, the wet nurse had left the keep in a hurry, running off in the early morning hours with the other half of the stone while leaving baby Liam without a caretaker until someone heard his cries. Hearing this, Rhea takes the elvhen stone and sends a few curses into it and the wet nurse who ran away, but after calming down she takes a breath and asks for Bert to look after Liam until they get home. The wet nurse would have to be dealt with later, but Liam’s wellbeing overrides her anger at such a betrayal for now.

While Valeria goes back to her conversation with the duo on the other side, Rhea sits down to look through the books she found while in the mansion and tower in Denerim. She reads them by firelight, looking over the covers and skimming over the pages and contents to try and figure out what knowledge they might all offer. “A Magister’s Guide to Blood Rituals” is hidden away out of sight to be looked at later, while a book about keeping slaves is fed to the fire almost immediately. The strange book bound in human skin however doesn’t meet such a fate as the hair on the back of her neck rises as she notes the title “Behind The Wall.” She spends most of the evening pouring over these tomes before calling it quits for the night and settling into her tent to try and rest after such a wild day.

Seeing the others busy with other tasks, Sargis decides to try his hand at cooking dakosaurus meat. The carefree ease in which he adds ingredients and stirs the small pot leaves Valeria a little bit worried about how it will turn out, but quickly the smell of it wafts about camp and gives the air a pleasant feel about it. Sargis and Valeria talk, and soon enough he weaves a tale about a sailor he once knew that nearly burned their eyebrows off trying to make a rum version of this on a ship he’d once been on.As the finishing touches go in and a secret splash of herbs, the stew becomes a marvel to behold, and he and Valeria enjoy a bowl of it while they chat and the others eat their rations for the evening.

After a time, stepping away from Ardis as he awkwardly tries to figure out how to eat in his new body, Revas walks over to Val and sits next to her while Sargis and Rhea tell stories back and forth about the sea and adventures they’ve had. He’s quiet for a time as they sit in companionable silence before he catches her attention with a gentle nudge of a rock on the ground away from the fire. She turns to him, curious as she studies his expression.

The words he says next take her slightly off guard but she listens quietly as he apologizes about the events earlier. When things were starting to get rough in a conversation with Leonara and Rhea about the right of property, Revas was the one to speak out loudly about this and to want to end the arguing then and there. To this Valeria nods and speaks from the heart saying that with all the danger and fear that had gone on that day that as long as Ardis was back and everyone was safe that it was fine to let one feel and express it even if it might hurt at the time.

The gang rests, recollects, and dreams. The safety of their tents and being so close to home helps them feel more at ease. Though the minds of Ardis and Leonara find themselves stirring despite their attempts to sleep. What would their future hold? What did all this change mean? It’s hard to see the future with the present so dark and uncertain before you. Despite their difficulty seeing more than the whirling chaos of nightmares or memories, they too awake to a new morning after being lulled to sleep by the beating thrum of dragon wing.


RAVEN’S ROOST

Fireday, 06.04.841 TE
Morning

A quick breakfast and a long, awkward, trip later and the gang arrives home to the welcoming arms of their friends and family. It doesn’t take long for the gang to split and go their separate ways the second they step foot on familiar soil, business to be done and some much needed love and attention would do the gang good after such a rushed trip.

Rhea goes off to meet with some people and check in on her son after the trouble with the wet nurse. Revas, on the other hand, goes with Ardis to get him checked out by Gale. Both feel worry but for two very different reasons, the same as resentment directed at the one that caused the troubles they currently face.

Ardis will be getting help with his memory as Gale tries to guide him, though he seems a bit apprehensive about doing so. His reluctance becomes more apparent when Revas stands there silently while Gale speaks and mentions his need to step away and inform the group what’s going on. It takes a few moments but after Revas promises to be back as soon as possible Ardis lets go of his hand and the elf disappears from sight.

While this happens, Rhea has checked up on Liam and begun her search of her room. The Wet nurse may have absconded with the elvhen stone, but the possibility of any other missing items or harmful things to baby Liam is not worth risking. She takes care of it herself, knowing her belongings well enough to be thorough but keep it clean. After a good search, she finally feels herself relax and goes to collect Liam to feel his comforting warmth and loving coos. Even with him being so young, the time he seems truly at peace is in his mother’s arms. And the two take comfort in one another as they enjoy the day together in peace.

Sargis, with gifts in his bag and a smile on his face makes his way to Dora’s shop. Though they never ask it of him, Sargis almost always arrives with him a gift and a few good stories to tell Cole and Dora about the gang’s travels. This time his trinket of choice is a little bracelet, the jingling silver shell charms that he picked up in Wutherford. Just at hearing it, the excited look in Cole’s eyes is worth its weight in gold and Dora’s smile lights up the room while she finishes up her work to listen to the stories as Cole looks up at uncle Sargis with a grin and stars in her eyes. As Sargis speaks, the words that speak from the heart are that to him, Dora and Cole are practically family. And that sentiment carries weight as they continue chatting late into the evening.

Valeria sees Leonara off to the safety of the stone walls of Raven’s Roost, making sure that she has some accommodations ready for her before stepping away to Arna and her welcoming hug. The words of love and affirmations flow between them with ease and Valeria gets started explaining some of what had happened as they head off towards the meeting.

The unusual thing about this particular meeting is that the gang themselves hadn’t called it. Though usually they get together to talk over what had happened, Arna or Faustus are the ones who gather the gang together for a debriefing before they scatter to the four winds to hang out or get their own work done. This time however, a guest arrived before the gang got back, and they are ready with back up and a look in their eye that meant they means business. Lady Affraic surveys the group and focuses her attention on Valeria who has a hard time looking her in the eye.

When Revas gave information about the potions for the Blight to the people of Eagle-Eye Hold, Lady Affraic was the first to know about Revas’ call for help from Bela. And because the group hadn’t checked in with Lady Affraic beforehand, the gang is in a lot of trouble. This sort of information has to be kept under wraps, at least for now, and in giving the recipe to the Avvar, it means that Bela’s secret recipe could get out of hand faster than she is prepared for. With Valeria knighted under Lady Affraic’s name, it means that any problems the gang brings upon her or the Order is to be brought up with her specifically as well as the person involved.

Despite her unhappiness about the situation however, she seems willing to let things go for the most part and only requires some form of public punishment for Revas and Valeria. She can’t leave things be if she wants to keep order amongst the ranks, and a recruit like Valeria is no exception to this rule. The two members of the Heartbreaker Gang would have to make a public apology, a lesser sentence that Valeria welcomes but Revas frowns at heavily.

After talking of crime and punishment, they discuss Denerim and their findings as well as triumphs while getting Ardis back. And talk of the Avvar reaches Lady Affraic’s ears directly, much to her unhappiness at such a deal as handing over Ketilbiorn Hold and solidifying a relationship with the Avvar in the first place. Mention of Arl Conobar, Arlessa Sheridan, Arlessa Teagan, and Jainen is also made, with Jainen being the most pressing issue at the time. Though she wishes not to show her direct hand in the attack on Jainen, Lady Affraic claims the islands will be her prize should the battle against Magistra Lutatia be won. With that, she decides the conversation has come to an end before she leaves the war room to peruse Raven’s Roost’s wine storage for the growing headache she now feels.

A few more words of dislike for the current situation are heard, a semi-conspiratorial glance spreading around the Heartbreaker Gang like wildfire. They aren’t ones to take being told what to do very well, but considering the circumstances they let things slide and better plan their trip to Jainen as the opportunity to deal with that Magistra has presented itself finally. One less member of the Liberatori could mean a breath of peace for the gang and their loved ones, but for now they adjourn the meeting to take some time to themselves.

Home at last with Ardis safe and sound, the Heartbreaker Gang soaks in the sunshine and gives themselves a moment to breathe and feel after that daunting venture into Denerim. New friends and old are now protected within the lands of Raven’s Glen, but not all seems to be going well for them and the gang as battle plans are drawn and strange looks are thrown their way. Would Ardis regain his memories properly? Would Leonara find acceptance within the walls of Raven’s Roost? The gang seeks the answers to this and more, as the trouble with the LIberatori is only just getting warmed up.

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Episode #114
There And Back Again

05.04.841 TE – Denerim
Revas, Rhea, Sargis, Valeria

Denerim

DENERIM

Thunderday, 05.04.841 TE
Day

The sight of Denerim weighs heavily on the members of the Heartbreaker Gang as they start their search for Ardis. The wait to get there in the first place nearly drives Revas into a state of despair, so the talks of searching Leonara’s room and Cato’s as well put him even further on edge. They have a rough plan for finding Ardis here in the Tevinter occupied city, but that doesn’t mean that the group are all fully focused on one singular goal. The opportunity is just too much to overlook when it comes to dealing a blow to the Liberatori and their foothold here in Ferelden.

Despite the urgency of their quest, however, that doesn’t mean that a few members of the gang would pass up the opportunity to have a look around Leonara’s abandoned room and perhaps gather a few things of interest before starting things off in their potentially exhaustive search. Rhea finds a few magic books, pocketing them before skimming a hand over the labels of alcohol still kept safe in their crystalline containers. Valeria meanwhile quickly looks over the books in the bookshelves, scribbling down the names of the more well loved books on a small piece of paper and a pen she managed to find on the desk before it was rummaged through. Some of the titles she can read, but some leave her confused as she struggles to write down an unknown script as best she can.

Footsteps begin thudding down the corridor, catching the attention of the ever perceptive Revas as he stands near the door. The sound of someone or something being dragged is heard as it leaves the space by the door, but the more pressing situation is the sound of someone stopping and sniffing the air.

Fear of being ambushed and wanting another way out runs through the minds of the Heartbreaker Gang, so Rhea attempts an interesting application of her magic. Using her decomposing magic, she starts to slowly rot away the wood in the wall. But upon seeing that the amount of surface area wouldn’t be rotted fast enough to make a quick escape, the effort is left for now.

Not wanting to wait any longer, Valeria charges into the hallway and finds several draaks and mages between the gang and the exit to the mansion. A battle breaks out, several mages running off while attacking around corners and dodging into rooms when they can. The gang manages to persevere and heads into Cato’s room for a quick check. They grab everything they can find of value, keeping an eye out for any books and journals, when a plan comes to mind that’s too tempting to pass up. They dump a couple of books on the floor and rip some curtains down, and when all that is done, a fire is set to burn the mansion down to the ground. When they rush down the stairs, they are confronted by a couple of mages, who are either dispatched or left behind as the group leaves the rapidly igniting building.

The group marches forward, knowing that every minute is one minute too long. But even so, they are going so far as to sneak through alleyways of Denerim, the patrols on the street none the wiser of their trespass. The moment they step into the tower however, things don’t go as cleanly and without bloodshed.

They make their way through the tower, taking on guards and mages left and right as they search for the floor Ardis might be on, burning and taking what they can as they move. Two prisoners are freed, released but unconscious as the Heartbreaker Gang hurries at the behest of Revas and a growing sense of dread between them all. But upon finding Ardis, everything starts to take a darker turn. His body lays cold on the ground, and it freezes the hearts of the gang as they take in the scene.

Red magic symbols cover the floor of the room, Ardis’ body in one spot while black dragon eggs sit in other circles nearby. An electric current flows between the egg and the body, and it flickers as it interacts with another body in a metal cage. Its black, draconic body is recognizable, even from where they stand. Revas falls to his knees near the body of his partner in shock. Sargis and Rhea look about the room, trying to find a way to help with the situation at hand and perhaps reverse the process, but Valeria is the first one to act. Cutting herself carefully, she looks to the red symbols and the magic that she has come across before and does all she can think to do to help the weakening flickers of electricity.

Valeria feeds the spell, aiding the magic ritual she has come to fear from interactions with similar dark work. In her efforts, the body in the cage eventually begins to breathe more evenly and twitches to life as the spell starts to take effect. And as it finishes, draak eyes open and look upon Revas in confusion, pain, and fear. It is Ardis that looks back at Revas. Ardis feels the weight of his own form and sees his previous body laying on the cold stone floor. But Revas moves forward, opening the cage and greeting Ardis as the two of them speak and try to figure out what is happening. It takes some convincing, some words of comfort spoken between the two of them, before the group moves forward with more haste. Even as tears travel down Revas’ cheeks at what has been done to Ardis, the two move together with love in mind as the Heartbreaker Gang start their retreat.

Revas and Ardis, in need of a quick escape, take the other members of the Heartbreaker Gang at their word that they would join them soon, and crush their own orbs that Leonara provided to teleport them back to safety. Meanwhile Rhea, Valeria, and Sargis’ work is still not quite over. The three of them quickly take to the stairs again, leading up further into the tower to try and sow a little more chaos in this Liberatori base.

The next floor up, standing there with more corpses under his command, is Sathurian. He looks surprised to say the least, as the trio show up before him. Even more so as Valeria and Sargis leave him to Rhea as they surge towards the top of the tower and their secondary goal for coming here. While they rush up the stairs, Rhea calls out that she will be back home in three minutes. Meanwhile, buying time for the others, she takes out a few enraged corpses, their puppeted bodies unable to handle the power of the Sword of Sareth. This definitely catches Sathurian’s attention as he turns to defend himself from her attacks as the tower and his heart begin to burn.

To the top of the tower with haste, Valeria and Sargis rush to find themselves face to face with several draak guards lying in wait. They attack with fire, with fang, with claws, and leave the duo with burns, but still with intent in their hearts. While Sargis deals with the draak while staying behind his shield, Valeria focuses on breaking the crystal with brute strength and a few well placed strikes. Even as the two are attacked, bleeding from the attacks and fending off two draak each, they break the crystal and hear the silence fill Denerim. Silence, empty and lifeless, takes over the streets of Denerim until chaos breaks out as the controlled forces of the Liberatori break out into fights between one another.

Taking that as a hint that it’s time to leave, Valeria grabs a piece of the crystal and turns around just in time to see Sargis hop on the ledge and jump off the tower. With the dramatic flair he’s come to be known for, Sargis waits for a moment before crushing the orb he has and teleports before he becomes a smear on the flagstones. Valeria meanwhile marvels at the dwarven craftsmanship of Borin Runeforge, wondering at Ashrune’s capability of breaking a crystal while keeping its edge. But soon enough the remaining draak turn their wavering attention to Valeria, so she too vanishes after crushing her own orb.

Rhea, Valeria, and Sargis soon find themselves back near Wutherford with grass beneath their boots and trees casting shade upon their backs. Revas and Ardis stand awkwardly with Leonara who eyes the situation warily even as the others show up. There’s a moment to breathe, to take in fresh air not clogged with smoke and blood, but the reality of the situation and the quick decisions made in the moment now start to hit the gang as they take a moment to collect themselves.

When the world seems dark, the Heartbreaker Gang make their move to bring light back to the places around them and to the people they care about. But what is there to be done when irrevocable change and hasty decisions might one day come back to bite them? Will Ardis be able to cope with his new form? Will the results of the blood magic ritual have further effects on Ardis and Valeria? Will the Liberatori lose control of Denerim as the freed draak and darkspawn tear each other apart? Thoughts for another moment perhaps after they enjoy a few seconds of peace. For who knows what might be waiting for them as they take their first steps towards home again with new allies and old ones forever changed by the Heartbreaker Gang’s actions.

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Episode #113
Until We Meet Again

03.04.841–05.04.841 TE – Raven’s Roost
Revas, Rhea, Sargis, Valeria

Wutherford Map

RAVEN’S ROOST

Tearsday, 03.04.841 TE
Night

The night passes by uneventfully.


RAVEN’S ROOST

Windsday, 04.04.841 TE
Morning

When morning comes, the keep of Raven’s Roost is abuzz with life. People are transporting things back and forth, carrying supplies, repairing houses and structures, and talking in the bailey.

The heroes all meet in the main hall for breakfast. Arna has handed little Erik to Bert so he can take care of him, and she makes sure that the group has the great hall for themselves before she speaks.

“We’ve had word from Lady Affraic. She will be here later today. It was a short note, and it didn’t say why, but I’m assuming it’s because of the attack. Maybe she will bring some help.”

Lachtna steps up and also wants to have a word. “She will indeed bring some help. Also I’m here to inform you that we have finally figured out where all the eluvians are leading. Some are safe to traverse through, others are not. I’m sure Lady Affraic will give you more detailed notes on the matter. For now I at least wanted to tell you that we finally know which eluvian leads where. In Ferelden, there are quite a few eluvians, and the ones going to Vigil’s Keep and Killarney are likely not safe.”


After breakfast, Faustus pulls Rhea aside. “Are you doing alright? I know it all came as a shock, so I just thought I’d check in with you. If you need to talk, I’m here. If you need company, I’m here. If you need me in any way, I’m here. Just know that, alright?”

Rhea is grateful, and tells Faustus that she will see her later, and that Faustus better bring a bottle. She then hands Liam to the wet nurse, and also puts the Elvhen Stone in Liam’s bed. Rhea also asks Bert to look after Liam when the wet nurse needs to rest.


Down in Raven’s Glen, preparations are already made for the cremation of the fallen. Velenna is in charge, and the heroes know that she has cleansed the bodies and dressed them in white linen. After that, the bodies are placed on boats which have been filled with wood. Soon, these will be set alight.

The fallen include:

  • Braedon
  • Engar
  • 4 knights
  • 5 chevaliers

The ceremony is prepared, and a lot of people are gathering at the small docks of Raven’s Glen. Velenna walks up to Rhea and hands her a small amulet. It’s a simple whale’s tooth depicting a ship weathering a storm.

The boat containing Braedon’s body is then slowly pushed out to sea. Rhea steps up to give her eulogy.

“In truth, Braedon and I have not known each other very long. Ours was a short courtship—we knew almost instantly that we were meant for one another. A perfectly matched pair.

With Braedon, I experienced the truest partnership and happiest marriage imaginable. He understood me, supported me, and completely and utterly loved me. He gave me a wonderful son, Liam, to whom he proved a devoted father. I will carry all the memories we made with me for the rest of my days.

Those who were with Braedon at the end told me that he died with regrets. He regretted leaving me so soon, and not being able to raise our son together. As he died with his, I must live with my own. That I could not protect him from his fate, that I was not here with him in his final days, that our last conversation was so quick and impersonal for the sake of matters that I can hardly recall in the face of his loss.

As we put the love of my life to rest today, I pray a part of him lives on. In the stories of his deeds, in the hearts of our family and friends, in the character of our son. Things will never be the same – but I know the world is better for the years my husband lived.

Goodbye, my beloved. Until we meet again."

After her speech, an archer steps up and shoots Braedon’s boat with a flaming arrow. It takes fire right away.

More people step up to say a few words. A former Baranti guard steps up and clears his throat.

“Today we say goodbye to the only child of Teyrna Alannah and Liam Burdock. Ferelden will long remember their son Braedon as the heir to a weighty legacy.

His mother was a powerful political figure, and his father was a loving man whose brother raised Braedon for the first decade of his life. He raised goats, worked the fields, and all the while trained swordsmanship with his uncle.

And so I’ve found that Captain Braedon was a very humble man, always aware of where he came from, and what the people around him had to endure to get to where they were. I struggled in the beginning, but Captain Braedon was compassionate and kind, and helped me get through the rigorous training, until I finally was able to please him.

His heart was a big one, and he always took care of those under his protection: whether he made sure that we had all eaten, or whether he made sure that our beds in the barracks were of acceptable quality, he always stood up for us.

I will always remember him as a gentle man, who spent more time with us than he needed, and who always loved a good joke.

May the Lady protect him.”

After him, a young woman takes his place.

“Captain Braedon was a good man. He helped us out wherever he could, was understanding when things didn’t go according to plan, and led us with a dedication that was admirable.

He would always preach to us that we will never be entirely comfortable. That this is the truth behind the champion–he is always fighting something. To do otherwise is to settle.

And so he died fighting. He died trying to keep his friends and family safe. I think that means he did what he preached, always fighting, until the last moment.

May Korth be with him.”

Faustus finds Rhea in the crowd, and puts her hand on her shoulder. “I’m here.”

Finally, Bert makes his way to the front, heavily leaning on his cane.

“I’m not a man of many words, so I will make this short.

I only recently started spending more time with Braedon, who I’m sure everyone knows, was a lovely man with a big heart.

He came to me in a time of need. He missed his wife, and so did his son. It wasn’t an easy time for him, and accepting my help went against everything he believed he stood for. But he accepted it anyway.

I feel honoured to have known him, and especially honoured that he chose to trust me with his son.

Braedon dedicated his life to making other people’s lives better. He always put others first. Always made sure they were okay before he took care of himself.

I admired him, and I hope that we all can live better lives because we have known him.”

The ceremony is tearfilled, difficult, and silent, but as it ends Revas goes to find Valeria about her plans to head to Wutherford. The two also find Sargis and speak just loud enough for Rhea to hear. Rhea listens for a bit and then goes off to hunt down Bela’s assistants in the alchemy lab. There she asks about some ingredients and also buys some.

The group then sends Hildr into the forest to try and track the enemy forces that fled. She’s taking 15 knights with her.

Then, around noon, the group leaves Raven’s Roost behind.


WUTHERFORD

Late Afternoon

The heroes pass the last bridge before entering Wutherford, and they think back to the time when a bunch of poor people set up here to collect money from travelers. Things aren’t too different now. At the end of the bridge, just in front of Wutherford’s walls, stand four guards, all of them alert and with their hands on their weapons. When they spot the gang, they spread out, and one of them steps forward, calling over. He has a distinct Tevinter accent.

“Hello there. Welcome to Wutherford. We are the Seventh Battalion. If you have business here, we ask for a small fee of 5 silver per person to keep the roads and buildings maintained. Now that Wutherford is under our control, we want to make sure that it goes back to its former glory, and for that we need your coin.”

The guard waits for the group to get closer, and then adds: “We can also provide directions to the most important buildings in town, if you need them. And Matteus over there has maps of the city for sale, if you’re interested.”

The Heartbreaker Gang immediately calls the soporati on the high price, and starts arguing with the man. But when they figure out that he only cares about the wellbeing of the city, they agree to pay, if they get a map for free. The guard agrees and so the heroes are allowed to enter the city.

Inside the city, the gang soon notices the stark difference to before. There are no lone children on the streets, or deserted animals. The streets are clean and well repaired, and the buildings spanning them look much the same.

When looking around, the heroes see several soporati patrolling the area, keeping an eye on everyone they don’t know. A few suspicious looks are thrown their way, but as the members of the gang behave, the soporati don’t waste a second glance on them.

While travelling through the town of Wutherford and looking for the Black Tar, the group overhears some people talking in Tevene. There are several knights talking loudly in an alley. They’re talking about a female mage, someone they want to capture alive, if at all possible.

“I’ve seen her somewhere around here.”

“You said that earlier. And she was nowhere to be seen.”

“Well, it’s not my fault the fucking Bitter Barrel lady threw us out. What if she was in there?”

“Psh. If She had been in there, we would have found out.”

“Right. Sure. Whatever.”

“Don’t fucking whatever me. Just fucking lead us to the Black Tar so we can get this over with. That bitch’s gotta be somewhere around here.”

The gang tries to fast walk past them, but as they pass the knights, one of them seems to recognize them. He yells after them, and, when they don’t react, shoots a crossbow bolt at Valeria. The group call for the guard before getting into a scrap.

Combat breaks out, with several knights laying into Sargis, who defends himself skillfully. Valeria in the meantime is taking heavy damage from two frost mages, while Revas has climbed up on a roof and is lobbing arrows at whoever isn’t paying attention to him. Rhea helps out Sargis, and strikes at the heavily armoured knights.

After some fighting, and the scales tipping in the group’s favour, six Tevinter soporati appear, wearing the colours of the former Jader Battalion. They fight with the mages for a while, but soon manage to subdue the angry people, and thank the group for their help. They also apologize for the group getting in trouble, and promise them that they can come to the headquarters to make official complaints and file charges.


After the fight, a familiar face leans out of a window nearby. Neladrie, the Black Tar’s owner. She is curious as to what happened, and invites the group in.

The building called the Black Tar has certainly seen better days. Its facade is crumbling, and the few windows that can be seen are rather dirty. It looks like Great Bear Lake sometimes floods this area, and that is likely why the building is sitting on rough looking stilts.

The interior is far from clean and neat, and it’s rather common for old drinks to still be sitting at deserted tables. In one corner, there is an odd table surrounded by quite a few people. It looks like two of them are playing a game which involves trying to shoot a small puck into the enemy’s goal.

The group orders drinks and food, and speaks to Neladrie for a while, during which they learn about some rumours.

  • Bravik the jeweler sells stolen items, especially jewellery. The group better watch their belongings when they visit him.
  • Anyone hiding anything always stays in the Black Tar. That’s just how it is.
  • Trina has had an affair with Rorden, and since then his prices have gone up significantly.
  • There’s definitely someone who won Olenna’s attention. There’s a guest at the Bitter Barrel who’s stayed there for a while now. For free.
  • The priestesses at Sigfrost’s Shrine have now added someone to their roster who will read books to those who can’t read themselves.
  • There’s a thief roaming the Highdocks. They keep stealing stuff that is designated for the Seventh Battalion.
  • Yes, “the Lady” stayed in the Black Tar for a few nights, but about a week ago she didn’t come back.
  • Neladrie doesn’t know where “the Lady” is, but suspects that she is still hiding within the city. After all, she is a smart woman, and Neladrie can’t imagine her having been caught by the no-good soporati.
  • If Neladrie were to hide, she would go to a place no one suspects. Someplace innocuous. A place that would be the last place anyone would look.

The heroes decide that Leonara is most likely at Sigfrost’s Shrine, and so they make their way there. Once arrived, they speak to Wilca, and convince her that they need someone who reads a book on herbs to them. At the same time, Revas and Sargis spot a familiar looking figure among the priestesses. The group goes up to her and they soon find themselves face to face with Leonara. Wilca called her “Lena”, and so the group continues the charade, calling Leonara by that name until they are in a separate room. There they question Leonara about Sathurian and Augustus.

Leonara Intel:

  • Augustus doesn’t usually kidnap people. He kills them outright. And Sathurian is instructed to do the same.
  • Taking Ardis might have been a tactical decision. Sathurian might have simply done it to keep the group from attacking Augustus, since he essentially has a way to keep them under control. If they attack, he’ll likely kill Ardis.
  • The group might be able to trade Ardis for something or someone else.
  • Augustus uses elves to power his spells and experiments. Many magisters do.
  • Augustus spends most of his time in Fort Drakon when he’s in Denerim. This might have changed, now that Cato is no more. Someone’s definitely taken over Drakon Tower, Augustus would never leave that unattended, not with the control crystal at its top.
  • Ardis might not be mind controlled anymore but he might be being tortured if Sathurian finds out he’s a half elf.

During their conversation, the group manages to convince Leonara to go with them to Raven’s Roost. Valeria hands her a dragon that she specifically made for her.

Then they buy the book on herbs, and offer to help Wilca and the shrine by taking care of orphans and providing the shrine with blank books.

They stop at the Sapphire Scythe and stay for the night. They enjoy the good food, comfortable and spacious rooms, and a bath at the end of the hall.

They talk in the mirror shard with Arna, get an update on Lady Affraic showing up and drinking, as well as the news that Hildr and the knights managed to capture 5 mages alive.

Valeria and Leonara stay in the same room, Sargis keeping watch outside the door in a chair before switching shifts with Valeria.

Rhea and Revas however seem to not be getting much sleep as they talk about Ardis and Augustus, and Rhea studies her mother’s journal.


TO GREAT BEAR LAKE

Thunderday, 05.04.841 TE
Morning

After breakfast, the gang makes a temporary trek to go find the plants Rhea needs for her ritual. There is no road leading to the coast of Great Bear Lake, and trees and thickets cover almost the entire coastline. Who knows what or who might be in there.

Stumbling through the thicket, the group hacks their way through branches and twigs, leaving a visible trail behind. Doing this is exhausting, and it takes all of their effort not to succumb to the encroaching fatigue.

Deep in the forest, the heroes spot a possibly ancient statue, easily five yards tall. It is covered in moss and overgrown with ivy in some places, but it is still magnificent. It depicts a naked man holding up a trident in a threatening pose, almost as if he’s mid-strike. His muscles are clearly visible, and the veins are bulging on his imposing arms. Part of the trident is lying on the forest floor, broken off and useless. The statue is Björn Reed-Beard, and likely several hundred years old, built during a time when the forest hadn’t moved so far inland yet.

Rhea climbes up onto the statue and reattaches the fallen down trident part with a piece of rope.

Then the group continues on. While making their way through the forest, the gang does their best to stay positive. Every tree they pass looks the same, and every branch they strike down seems to return to its previous place.

A raven sits on a branch nearby, seemingly watching the group. As they move, it follows them at a distance, always watching. Whenever they look back, there is one more raven sitting on a branch up in the trees.

Sargis throws some food onto the ground for them, and the ravens gather around it and start fighting over it.


Finally the group arrives at the coastline of Great Bear Lake.

As the heroes look around, they spot a mother bear teaching her young how to fish in the shallow water. They seem to have noticed the group, and the mother bear is throwing looks at them from time to time, but doesn’t seem interested in attacking them. After a while, the two of them tire of fishing and slowly make their way along the coast, away from the heroes.

It seems that the bears had a good reason to leave.

The heroes hear the loud flapping of wings. As they turn around, they see a majestic blue dragon fly over the surface of Great Bear Lake. She’s flying low, seemingly looking for something just below the surface.

Suddenly, she dives down into the water, submerging herself fully. For a moment, the only thing visible are the waves and ripples on the water’s surface. Then, a few yards over, a massive dragon head emerges, and she takes flight again. Her blue, almost turquoise scales reflect the sunlight and throw shimmering lights onto the grass in front of the group. The dragon is close now, but hopefully it is busy with the prey in its mouth. For a moment, the high dragon hovers in the air, looking down at the group…

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Episode #112
Heartbreak

Tearsday, 03.04.841 TE – Raven’s Roost
Revas, Rhea, Sargis, Valeria

Raven's Glen

The sun is high up in the sky on Tearsday the 3rd of Cloudreach when the Lonely Siren makes its way towards Raven’s Glen and its adjoining keep Raven’s Roost. Waves are lapping at the sloop’s hull, and the siren at the front of the ship is parting the sea in front of her with ease.

Salem stands at the bow of the ship, holding onto the rigging with one hand, while stroking Drynne’s hair with the other.

“Soon we’ll be home,” she says quietly.

The young boy doesn’t seem to hear it. He’s holding Senga in his arms, letting the dog look over the railing at the splashing sea.

Nearby, Arna holds onto Valeria’s arms, her face red and freckled, and her eyes tired and only half open. Despite keeping her eyes on the horizon, she’s still feeling seasick, and worries that she might have to lean over the railing once again soon. But Valeria’s strong hands keep her steady, and the imminent need to puke subsides when a gentle hand rubs her lower back.

“Thank you.” It’s clear that she means the words, but they are tinged with a kind of sadness Valeria knows only too well. All of them have been thinking about home and what might be going on that they couldn’t get a hold of their people through the mirror shards or the Elvhen Stone. “I hope they are alright,” Arna says. “I don’t think I can handle them not being alright.”

Further back, holding the steering wheel in his hands, is Sargis, enjoying the midday breeze rushing through his hair and beard, carrying with it the smell of salt and algae, and the sounds of seagulls. Captain Etienne stands near him, keeping a keen eye, but also trusting his sailing skills after having seen him navigate the whirlpool only a day before.

Rhea and Revas are leaning over the railing nearby, watching dolphins follow the ship, and trying to spot whales in the distance blowing water out of their blowholes. A tiny Gereon lies at Rhea’s feet, curled around them like he might get lost otherwise. When Dayron approaches Rhea and Revas, he does so with careful steps, and makes sure to stop a few feet away so as not to disturb the little puppy.

“Do you think there will be fighting?”

“Likely,” Rhea says.

“Alright. I would like to help, then.”

After accepting Dayron’s help, Rhea goes back to thinking about home and her husband, Braedon. Worried, she tries to push those thoughts away, but doesn’t succeed.

All the way high up in the crow’s nest is Hildr, keeping an eye on the ship’s trajectory and its path. Keeping Sargis at the helm informed of what’s ahead is her job, and so she yells down, her voice carrying easily over the wind.

“There are boats ahead! Quite a few of them!”

When everyone has a look, they realize that the boats all belong to fishermen, who have banded together and are talking to each other excitedly as the large sloop approaches. At least six small boats can be seen drifting in the water, with nets hanging from their sides and fish in containers on deck.

The fishermen soon greet the people on the ship with a sort of anxious excitement. They may not know the Lonely Siren, but they very well know their leader Ser Valeria, and when they spot her, voices start talking all over each other.

It becomes clear that Raven’s Glen has been attacked yesterday, and a small force of people somehow made it into the village undetected. By the time people knew what was going on, it was already too late. Buildings were set on fire, people were killed, and whoever wasn’t quick enough to hide in the castle had few options left to them. Especially the fishermen who had still been at sea didn’t make it back in time for the warning bells, and so they stayed at sea, too scared to enter the burning village.

Now that they mention it, the group also sees the smoke rising on the horizon, likely from their home.

Once the conversation with the fishermen ends, the Lonely Siren again rides the waves towards Raven’s Glen, this time with even more purpose.

The smoke on the horizon creeps ever closer, and finally, as they pass a cliffside obscuring their view, the group can make out their home. Or what is left of it. Even from afar it is clear that most of the thatch roof houses are burning or burnt, and Raven’s Roost further up the hill has seen better days, as walls seem to be crumbling.

Even from here the heroes can see the fighting going on in front of Raven’s Roost’s gates, with a massive golem attacking the enemy troops, while arrows are raining down upon them from the walls of the keep. The defenders are surely doing their best, but they don’t seem prepared for what happens next. A purple streak shoots across the sky, emerging from Raven’s Glen’s center square and aiming for the keep, where it impacts loudly with the tower. Someone is directing magical attacks from inside Raven’s Glen, and they need to be taken out.


When the heroes arrive in Raven’s Glen, it is hot and full of smoke, making navigating more difficult than expected. Only the constant barrage of purple magical missiles shooting towards Raven’s Roost helps the group keep their bearings.

Valeria remembers images from her childhood, and it requires some effort to shake them off.

The group passes a dead body near the docks, a woman who used to sell old clothes, her face smashed into the wet mud, her skull cracked open, blood and brains seeping out into the ground.

Further in the village, sheep and goats are bleating in fear, and the noise is the only sign of life for quite some time, until the group rounds a corner and finds a middle-aged man sitting on the floor, holding his intestines in his hands. He’s spewing blood, and seems on the verge of unconsciousness.

When the village center comes into view, it is not what the group expected. Burning buildings surround it, and many purple crystals have been placed on the village square in regular intervals, with one massive crystal at the square’s center. Flickering purple energy seems to travel from the smaller crystals to the large one, and the group is witness to the large crystal spewing out a missile which shoots directly at Raven’s Roost.

There, near the crystals, the group then notices several people. Four familiar looking bodies shamble towards the group, each one of them a villager they have seen once or twice. Now they are dead, their eyes devoid of life, and there is nothing in them except for the demon possessing the dead body in its rage.

Behind them, almost hidden behind the large central crystal, stands yet another figure, this one very much alive. An elvhen man looks at the group with bright red eyes, his face tattooed in ways that are unfamiliar even to Revas. He is dressed in elegant mail armour, and carries a shield and spear. His white hair is short at the sides and slightly longer on top. All in all he looks like a dashing man, if it weren’t for the deadness in his eyes.

Next to him is a figure that looks nothing like him.

Rhea recognizes the being next to him as an arcane horror. Even in death, a mage runs the risk of succumbing to demonic possession. In the body of a deceased mage, a pride demon becomes an arcane horror, funneling spirit magic through itself even as its desiccated remains crumble. An arcane horror knows magic, and has the tools to sap the power from other mages.

The figure next to the elvhen man is tall and slender, and seems to be female. It is floating slightly, and its hands move in weird patterns, almost as if it is composing an eerie song. Its matted grey hair looks like that of a corpse, and when its face comes into view it is clear why. The skin is emaciated and grey, and only red eyes distract from the fact that this body has long been dead.

“Welcome. I am glad you have finally arrived,” the elvhen man says. “I am Sathurian, and this is my beloved Mellia. If you do as I say, we will stop this assault, and you can keep your little castle and your people. All we require is the man named Braedon Burdock, and we shall leave you alone.”

Sathurian nods at the group. “Master Augustus is nothing if not understanding. If you hand this Braedon Burdock over now, we can forget about all this and just continue on with our lives.”

When Sathurian spots Revas, he sneers. “So you are the one he has been talking about.” He looks Revas up and down. “I don’t understand why he was so adamant to protect you.”

The group doesn’t listen for long, and when combat breaks out, Sathurian is in the middle of the field, his spear seemingly everywhere at once. Next to him, the arcane horror named Mellia dishes out spells, keeping people under control, and sucking the life force out of everyone near her.

During the first round of combat, Sathurian waves his spear and speaks. “So you choose to resist. Well then, maybe this decision will be easier for you if we bring out our little helper. He’s been so useful already, giving us all kinds of information. Come on out, puppet.”

And so Sathurian motions for Mellia, and shortly afterwards, the door to the building behind the two opens, and out comes a familiar figure. His face has been beaten up, and there is blood seeping from several cuts on his face and arms, but there is no denying that this is Ardis, Revas’ lover. He is not bound, and he’s holding his spear in his hands, while walking towards the group.

Sathurian grins. “Greet your lover, puppet.”

“Aneth ara, Revas,” Ardis says, his voice odd and monotone.

“Ir abelas,” he then continues, just before he lunges to attack. When he strikes, the heroes are as shocked as they are surprised. Ardis, the gentle giant, is attacking his friends with a ferocity that is unheard of.

During the fight, Sargis’ rune in his armour goes off and protects him from Mellia’s spells, and the heroes take out the many small crystals surrounding the square.

When Mellia is killed, Sathurian realizes that he can’t win, and he goes to Ardis and teleports away with him.

The troops far up on the hill near Raven’s Roost are left to their own devices, and are soon crushed by the united effort of the people in the keep, or they disperse in all directions.

Uncertain, and in some ways broken, the Heartbreaker Gang rests and tends to their wounds as Revas’ bondmate has disappeared without a trace or known way to reach him.

The Steel Picks, by now, have reached the shore, at least some of them. And the men go about trying to put out the fires that are still burning everywhere.


In the keep, chaos reigns. Wounded people are sitting at every corner, and there are a few people kneeling over corpses, either crying or trying to get them back to life. People are running back and forth, carrying supplies or wounded, and Gale can be seen at the center of the bailey, directing someone carrying Flora to the infirmary and following them inside.

Up on the ramparts, Faustus is navigating her people, and making sure that the wounded are taken down to Gale’s infirmary.

A soldier comes down the ramparts, a body thrown over his shoulders, and as he passes the group, they recognize Dora, who seems to limply hang from the man’s strong shoulders. Out of a nearby building, Cole comes running, Bert trying to catch up to her and almost stumbling over his cane.

In the infirmary, Gale is desperate to get help. Her hands are firmly planted on Bela’s chest, who seems to be unconscious. She sighs. “Oh, you’re here. I… I need help. My medics are doing the best they can, but we need more mages. I can’t heal all these people, I don’t have the resources. Someone needs to make a decision.”

She points at four adjacent beds. Flora, Arcas, Bela, and Dora are lying next to each other, all of them seemingly unconscious and bleeding heavily. Gale’s medics are trying their best to stop the bleeding, but it soon becomes clear that Gale is right. There aren’t enough supplies to save everyone, and the wounds of the four people in the infirmary are grave.

And so the heroes share their supplies, healing potions, and lyrium potions, with the medics and the wounded. They choose which patients to help first, prioritizing the people they have more contact with.

First patient: Dora
Second patient: Bela
Third patient: Flora
Fourth patient: Arcas

When all wounded patients are taken care of, Gale takes Rhea to the side. She leads her to an adjacent room, where a familiar person lies on a table. Braedon. His armour is dented and blackened, as if something exploded right on his chest.

Gale places a hand on Rhea’s arm. “I’m sorry, dear. He is gone.”

“Braedon was leading our defensive line on the ramparts when it happened. He was coordinating his recruits, and doing his best to keep everyone safe. After he was struck by a magical missile, he was brought to me, still alive. I couldn’t save him. I am so sorry.”

Gale stands in the corner, watching Rhea as she says goodbye to her husband.

Revas comes in to console the weeping Rhea, and when Gale speaks, it is as much to him as it is to Rhea.

“Before he died,” Gale says, “he wanted me to tell you something. He regretted not being able to help you raise Liam, and told me that he loves both of you very much. He apparently hid something in a drawer of your home, something that he was going to give you at some point.”

Valeria and Sargis go outside to work on keeping everyone together and focused on their tasks, helping here and there, carrying supplies, comforting the wounded and grieving, and just generally making sure that everything goes back to being normal.

Revas goes to Oleo and the two comfort one another and tell each other what has happened as they let themselves fall into their grief for just a moment.

Rhea takes some of the items from Braedon’s body after whispering softly into his hair. She takes his star pin and ring, and then goes to then ransack the room and finds an unsent letter from Braedon.

“Dearly beloved Rhea,

you are away traveling, and Liam and I are home alone. I know that Liam is still too small for such a long trip, but I must tell you that we both miss you very much. Much more than anticipated.

I wake every morning and think of you. Liam is often already awake, expecting me to take him to his wet nurse. She is a good woman, and often sings to him, just like you do. I have been practising my singing voice as well, and hope to sing a few songs with you once you return.

I hope your trip is a success, and that the Avvar treat you well. I have heard many different things about them, likely all untrue, but some of them make me lay awake at night with worry. I am sure you would tell me if there was reason to do so, even though our talks are often short and rushed. I trust that you will keep yourself safe, even among the Avvar.


Another day has passed and I still miss you very much. Bert is trying to teach me how to cook, and it is not going well. How he manages to cut things into such tiny pieces is beyond my understanding. It is a good exercise, however, and Liam enjoys being taken care of by Jori. They love our boy with a passion, and it is wonderful to see Jori and Bert interact with him.


You are still gone, and I admit it is starting to weigh on me. Liam often cries at night now, and I am sure he misses his mother. I try to console him, but it is not me he wants, and so all my endeavours are destined to fail.


This morning Bert offered to take Liam for a few days, so I can get some sleep. I have not slept in days, and I feel like a terrible father. I agreed to let Bert take Liam for one night, and I am feeling guilty for being so selfish.


Beloved, I finally got some sleep, and I am feeling much better. I cannot wait to see you again, and after our conversation today I am in a much better mood. When you return, I plan on going on a picnic with you. The weather is so nice, and I am sure you would love it, and so would Liam.


After reading the letter, Rhea leaves her room and goes to Liam and holds him close as she sings to him.

Meanwhile, Valeria speaks with Marissa, Lachtna, and Faustus about the damage and people as well as making preparations to attack Jainen. She also wants to visit Wutherford immediately to speak with Leonara about what just happened.

Valeria also requests a list of the dead and those that were left behind.

Sargis goes to encourage the people and celebrate this victory with them, taking the time to visit Cole and spend some time with her. He hands her the ribbons he bought in Eagle-Eye Hold, and the little girls is very excited. She ties them around her wrist, into her hair, to her clothes, and everywhere they can fit.

Revas goes to talk with Illen as they try to figure out what Sathurian wanted and where his hatred towards elves came from. They think on plans for Augustus before Revas goes to sleep in the aravel and hugs Eira.

As the group settles in for the night, the name of the Heartbreaker Gang hits home to each member as they struggle with their own heartbreak for the first time in awhile…

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Episode #111
Sailing Home

02.04.841–03.04.841 TE – Highever and the Waking Sea
Revas, Rhea, Sargis, Valeria

The Lonely Siren

The man who entered the Golden Jug calling out Sargis’ real name is older, with matted grey hair halfway hidden by a thick headband. He has brown eyes and a broken nose, and is holding a pipe in his crooked mouth.

The old man appears to be someone Sargis knew from a ship back in the day. His name is Castrion, the first mate of Captain Alejandro Musk. He seemed to have been left out at sea after an attack. He was a pirate.

Sargis seems to become more vigilant, and tries to change the conversation quickly when the word “pirate” is mentioned. Then, Sargis invites Castrion up to his room, and the two of them have a conversation upstairs. When Sargis returns, he is alone, and he rents out the room for two additional nights.

Meanwhile, Rhea goes to pack.

Arna gently pokes Revas’ shoulder to get his attention, and tells him that he got a visitor while he was in jail: Aeson, the elder of the Alienage.


Revas and Valeria go to the Alienage to speak with Aeson, seeing the elves tying ribbons to their sacred tree before dispersing. Aeson admits to being the leader of the Midnight Scars, and then mentions that one of his men is missing. Lerith, a young man, had gone to sabotage the wagons of the Steel Picks in front of a tavern called the Broken Arrow. Martin, the semi-leader of the Steel Picks, is a big strong guy that sometimes doesn’t have armour on.

After hearing Aeson’s story, Valeria agrees to try to help and try to talk with this Martin to get the elf back.


In the Golden Jug, Rhea talks with Arna about kids, responsibilities, and their respective loved ones. A snarky comment makes Arna blush and have to repack as she gets flustered.

Revas and Valeria return to the Golden Jug, and find that the group has mainly finished packing. They decide to ask Salem to get everyone onto the Lonely Siren, while they go to talk to the Steel Picks to see whether they can get the elf back.

And so the group makes their way to the docks, and has an eye out for anyone who looks like a mercenary. In front of the Broken Arrow, they find a group of Steel Picks, who are deep in conversation. One of them, a massive man, isn’t wearing any armour.

Valeria steps up to talk with them, and after some conversation manages to get into a sparring match with Martin who seems to go into a rage during the fight. However, that comes much too late, as a well-landed strike of Valeria’s takes the man to his knees. And so Valeria manages to come out victorious, and both Rhea and Sargis win one gold piece for having bet on Valeria’s win.

After some more talking, Valeria manages to get the Steel Picks to agree to joining the Heartbreaker Gang’s venture to attack Jainen. They will serve as specialized troops in the battle.

With the Steel Picks leaving Highever, the elves in the city will be free to accept more mercenary jobs, and take up the jobs the Steel Picks had before. On top of that, the friction between the two groups will be gone, as the elves are free to expand with the Steel Picks gone.


During Valeria’s conversation with the Steel Picks, Revas sneaks off and climbs on top of a roof. He takes advantage of the distraction and goes to sneak into the building as a raven. He manages to do so, and ends up in the kitchen of the Broken Arrow. Deciding to try a different way to handle people in the building, Revas decides to use the potion Sudden Slumber to knock out the cook. He drops the contents of the liquid into the cook’s drink, and waits for him to pass out.

Once the cook is unconscious, Revas dresses again and climbs into the window as an elf, so he can actually open the trap door located in the kitchen. When he does, he can hear some noises coming from inside the dark cellar, and soon finds rats scattering across the place. Then he spots a foot behind a barrel, and when he inspects this further, finds what he assumes is the missing elf Lerith.

Lerith is unconscious, and it takes Revas a bit to wake him up and convince him that Revas is there to help. Once that is achieved, Revas leads the way out of the cellar and kitchen, but Lerith is still wounded and clumsy, and makes quite a bit of noise.

They climb out of the window and manage to escape while Valeria, Sargis, and Rhea manage to seal the deal in taking the Steel Picks with them to fight in Jainen.

Revas manages to get the elvhen lad home, despite the burn to his hand and cut on his leg. When he tells Aeson, he is given a gift of an ironbark charm that helps prevent poison. Revas thanks him and says his goodbye.


The group eventually makes it to the ship and Captain Etienne prepares for setting sail and putting everyone she can to work.

Captain Etienne is busy commanding her people around when the group approaches the ship. Everyone on board seems to know what to do and is busy doing it. Men and women are hanging from the rigging, people climbing up and down, seamen yelling commands at each other, and at the center of it all, Etienne, a huge grin on her face.

“There you are! Bonjour! Took you a while, didn’t it. Well, you’re here now, and I hope you’re prepared to help out.”

She looks the group up and down and then poses a question none of them expected. “Any of you used to a life at sea?”

Etienne stares at the group with an intense look in her eyes. “Also I need to pick something up in West Hill, but that won’t take any time at all. I’ll make sure to make up for that time with my wind weaving.”

When Sargis and Rhea mention that they have been at sea before, Etienne looks surprised.

“You certainly don’t look the part. What with your heavy armour and all,” she says. “But all right fine by me.”

And with that, Etienne questions both Sargis and Rhea, testing their sailing knowledge. She first asks them simple things, testing their knowledge on sailing terms, and then moves on to more advanced questions and situational decisions.

Sargis wins the testing process, and as a reward, Captain Etienne makes him her First Mate. She then turns to the rest of them.

“The rest of you can either help my boatswain or my cook. We don’t do any dead weight around here.”

With that, everyone busies themselves helping out, and Revas climbs up into the crow’s nest to keep lookout. For a long time he sees nothing interesting, until suddenly, he spots a whirlpool in the distance.

Down on deck, Sargis tries to do his best to sail the ship away from the sudden threat of death down in the deep, and commands people around to the best of his ability. Despite not having been on a ship in such a long time, he manages to steer the ship away from danger, and so the ship only takes minor damage from the debris swirling around in the whirlpool, hitting the hull. All his efforts, however, mean little when three sailors go overboard and are gone forever.

Sinice the ship requires repairs, Orrun the boatswain asks for help from the group. Valeria does her best to help him make repairs while the two of them swap stories. He tells her that the ship may have once belonged to Martha the Great, an infamous pirate and force at sea, and that in its maiden years it used to be a merchant ship.

Mariana the cook requires help cooking the evening meal. What with most people helping repair the ship, she could use an extra few hands. When prodded to do so, Arna offers her help, but doesn’t do so well, likely because she’s been seasick for a while now. And so Drynne does his very best, but only manages to put in the wrong seasoning, almost ruining the entire batch of food. Revas comes to the rescue, and helps Mariana finish the meal.

During the cramped and uncomfortable dinner, Valeria talks to the others about hers and Borin’s conversation the day before, where Borin contacted her via the Amulet of the Planes:



Borin appears sitting down on a rock and holding the amulet around his neck, in front of Valeria. The Dwarf has seen better days, his armour is bent and bandages cover most of this visible body. His breathing is laboured and his movements are sluggish as he shifts his weight to one side. But the look on his face tells a completely different story, like he has accomplished something he is proud of. If Valeria didn’t know any better, it could almost be mistaken for joy.

“It’s good to see you again Ser Valeria. You look…well.”

Valeria blinks in surprise at seeing Borin before her, even if his image reveals him to be more magic than actually there.

She’s quick to check the door to her room before looking back at Borin with a tired grin as she moves her hair aside and shows him her new wolf tattoo on the shaved side of her head.

“Got into trouble, am starting trouble, and even ended up in jail the other night. Just another day with the gang. But to be honest, I feel lighter than before after my trip…it’s hard to describe.

How are you though? Looking like you’ve been picking a few too many fights as well."

Borin chuckles at the news of them in jail for a night, “Some things never change I see.” As he inspects the tattoo from a distance.

“I was in the Brecilian Forest for some time, I finally got to see a Great Bear.” He pats something invisible by his side, “Mine and Misha’s training is complete. Though it nearly killed me, I too haven’t felt this good in a while.”

The Dwarf seems unsure how to phrase his next words, choosing them carefully before he speaks, “I thought about contacting Velenna but I can’t do that to her. How is she? How is the group doing? I guess you could say I’m feeling a bit nostalgic today.”

Valeria nods at the news of the great bear, listening intently to his tone and way of speaking to see how he’s really doing but trying not to be too obvious about it.

When asked about Velenna and the gang, Valeria nods and looks thoughtful.

“Velenna and the others at home seem to be doing alright. Had some trouble with some old enemies of ours, but we caught it early so no harm done. As for the gang…where to even start… Revas is hanging out with a nice baker named Wulf who is around my height and from my home. Rhea is working with more and more magic recently, and the spirits seem to be noticing this. That or demons….not sure half the time. Had a few run in but we dealt with them on their home turf and made out just fine. Sargis on the other hand…while he was his usual self before, as soon as we stepped foot in this city he started acting even more odd than usual. As if he was rushing us out of here and doesn’t want to be seen. Then there’s me. A few fights, a few losses, acceptance from my mother, and another son to look after. It’s been a busy time for me but comforting despite the challenges. Was there anything you wanted me to tell the others?”

Borin nods as Valeria tells him the news of everyone, listening to her words carefully.

He chuckles again at the news of Revas, “Forever on the quest of making his harem bigger.” He begins to speak again, “Rhea…..” but then catches himself and simply drops his head with a smile.

He ponders the news about Sargis, “Mmm perhaps he has had dealings in that city in the past.” And then shrugs his shoulders.

He smiles warmly at Valeria, “I’m glad you got acceptance from your mother, I know it was weighing on you for a long time.”

Thinking on if there are any words for the group or the people back at Raven’s Roost, he opens his mouth to speak but then catches himself. Shaking his head he says, “No words for anyone. Velenna needs to forget about me so she can find her prince that will make her a queen. And I’m sure the group well do fine with any words from me.”

Shifting his weight to one side again he grimaces a bit before continuing, “I’m on my way to Jader, I need to do some research at the library there before I make my next move.”

Valeria raises an eyebrow at Borin’s response but says nothing of it. Instead she stretches and looks off at the door idly.

“We might be getting access to the largest library known to these lands…if we do well with our plans. Can’t let us be pushed around forever, and I’m done running. Also you know as well as I that Velenna won’t take no for an answer and would fight me herself if I so much as tried to suggest that.”

The Dwarf thinks again if he should say something to Velenna, he takes his time before responding, “No, she needs to forget about me.”

Borin gets up and moves to stand in front of Valeria, seemingly forgetting the state his body is in, “And when will you aquire this library? Where is it?” His words are rushed and Valeria can tell that she has gotten his full attention.

Taking note of Borin’s sudden change at the news, Valeria nods to herself and switches to sign just in case someone is listening in.

“We’ll be attacking Jainen in a few days. We expect opposition and captives, but we have to deal with this nonetheless. We also have some help navigating as well as an ally to help us deal with Jainen’s forces. We plan to take it and take out their leader, leaving the library in our hands for a little while. Potential plans are to have those on hand to secure the library and keep it safe from fire or damage if Jainen finds themselves in a losing battle.”

Borin smiles his smile of insanity. The one Valeria has seen too many times before. The wide grim always seen before the Dwarf does something foolish, something he knows he shouldn’t but simply can’t help himself.

He stares at Valeria for a while with the glint of madness in his eyes before letting go of the amulet and disappearing before her eyes.



When Sargis is asked whether he killed Castrion, Sargis simply denies it, and explains that once upon a time he did something bad, and so he simply wants to stay undetected in Highever and at sea.

Finally, as the moon rises high, everyone tries to sleep, but with seasickness and cramped spaces, it is hard to actually recover during the night. Rhea does her best to set up proper watches for the night, and thankfully nothing happens while she is on watch, but once morning comes, the heroes find the ship stuck in slithering sargasso.

They have a look around, and see Captain Etienne and others fighting the green, slimy tendrils reaching out to them, and so they decide to help. During combat, Rhea is grabbed by one of these tendrils, and almost pulled into the raging sea, but thanks to Sargis’ quick reflexes, she is freed and finds purchase on the wooden deck.

With the knowledge that the night before they couldn’t get in contact with Raven’s Roost by any normal means…the gang readies themselves for trouble as they sail home…

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