Team Tuesday

of a new companion and displacing beasts
from the register of Lucian Sepulveda

The flash that tore apart the prince and his horde, for a moment, seemed to even outshine all but the brightest of Pelor's rays. The successive shock wave rendered all but the last breath from my amphibious companion and the wiley wizard who help concoct this massive devistation.

But for all things there is an equal and opposite reaction and on this one occaision I was left most troubled. Recalling it is one thing, but to touch upon it properly I will need to consult the battered scrolls and tombs of theology I most often leave gathering dust upon the shelfs of the various abodes I have left strewn across the south.

No, instead I will recount my first proper outing with the curious small one, Chevelle. 

 tbc 

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victory
from the journal of Terrel Snick, City Guard

The Heroes of Isebe then left Darokin to implement a plan they had devised with his goodness, Lord Albertus. The most secretive of the hereos, the young wizard, rode off first, on that ghostly steed of his. The chill I felt as it gathered from the mist was eerie and when he had escaped eyesight I was much relieved. He was soon followed by that curious Ainu boy, with his Rhoode companion, and the man from the North, Buliwyf and that little halfling girl. One of Albertus' friends, Rair, had already taken flight to implement his part of the plot, though it, like the activities of the Heroes of Isebe, was a closely guarded secret.

Perhaps an hour had passed before Rair returnedf, anxiously seeking out his dwarven companion. I witnessed little change on the battle field at first. The Prince's army kept at its steady, silent pace, only pausing for a few moments as though distracted, before continuing on. I hoped that was not the end of Rair's contribution! I took that chance to ready my first bolt, knowing well it would be of little use against most of the horde. 

Here I then noticed that Rair and the dwarf had dragged seats up to a fine vantage point and had begun drinking. I did not know the meaning of this, but my hand trembled and I returned my attentions to the advancing horde.

More tense minutes passed and I wondered if the men who had gone out had been halted. I could count the goose pimples on my arms and neck for time had seemed to stop. 

Then everything went white and deaf. Like a mushroom of fire the entirety of the horde was consumed, digested by the radiant rays of Pelor's might! Time was still frozen it seemed, though I no longer felt the goose pimples or sweat upon my brow. 

Next thing I can recall, and it is most dim and hazy and largely my recollections now are what I was told and over heard, I was helped up by a town boy and his mother. Others all over the city were helping up those of us who had been up in the rooks and dotting the wall. I could hear nothing and see little more.

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From the book of the Northman

My name is Buliwyf. My father was a great man, a warrior and king but I have never known him. Never knew him except for tales, the stories and songs, told in the Halls, spoken by the bards, sung at the Fire. I was too young to remember him, only that his eyes were dark and proud. I am my father’s son, they say, in size, in strength, contenance and pride. They say I am wise for my age, but I am not. They say I am brave and true, but even now, my heart doubts itself. My steps are heavy and even though I take honour in each abomination I strike down, I find myself finding less….joy…in battle, even as Osteyad sings with each blow. I stand and count some of the greatest warriors I have ever met at my side, as companions and friends and yet I find myself troubled. Is this my path….am the man my father was…or have I led my new brothers into a sad end? I have already lost one of us, not once, but twice. Can I be counted to not fail the other two? These are things that trouble me, but I cannot allow them to rule me, for I have the blood of kings and giants. I will not let my courage wain, for I am the Northman. When I die, it will not be for vengence or blood or gold. It will be for glory. And perhaps, in the Halls above, my Father will look down upon me and see the man I have become.

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Darokin; return to and defense of
from the register of Lucian Sepulveda

The abominations summed by those most wicked magicians, the necromancers, wield powers unholy and unimaginable as I learned that afternoon in fields outside Darokin.

Having dispatched one of the Prince's Peradur generals, a Malverius mongrel, my companions and I felt that the day's tide was turning in our favor. So many of his horrors had fallen that day that we felt, though all but my basest prayers answered, on the verge of victory! Hope as bright at Pelor's rays!

On that vile day I first learned of a most wicked creature, the banshee, with it's pitiful wailings of horror and forlorn! It seems the Prince had banked, correctly, on our lack of preparedness for such an an assault. Where his minion's mettle was no match for our might, his horde's aural assault brought us to the brink of defeat.

The first wave came from a most horrific beat. Blind and grotesque it meandered at us at at slow trod. It's arms, though baring savage claws, hung uselessly at its sides. From its belly bellowed a bone shattering groan. Indeed it was so great that it shattered the neglected long sword at my side. My rhoonian bolts proved to be of little effectiveness and it was indeed the brawn of Buliwyf who finally brought the beast to its gnarled knees, though not before it had deafened the wizard.

Though prone to such fumblings the wizard would turn out to be most blessed, perhaps by Dimera, as that deafness saved him from the moans of the eight spectral sirens who had encircled us.  I did not suffer so well as their screeching shattered something inside me and left me, for the first time in this second life, feeling less than well. 

Buliwyf then acted in a most confounding way, tearing off that awful amulet that protected him from the wrath of the wraith wall.  In mere seconds the northman was just a husk, then, dust caught adrift in the day's dark breeze. Ostead, piercing the earth, began to emit a frost that chilled even our deadened toes. I took the wizard by his shoulder and in the tongue of lord Ainu mouthed, for the wizard's ears were still deaf, that our offensive was over and the time was made for our exit. Avert your eyes he said. 

The sun burst, the magic that had helped cleared our paths in Threshold, did not reveal the unadulterated rays of Pelor as hoped. Instead it found the wizard and I in the throne room of Vestangilus. Clad in black I wanted to tear the life from his neck. A broadsword rested atop his lap and from his right hand hung Perditia's felactory. Beside him, chained to the great columns which supported the structure, were two more of the howling beasts we had felled not even an hour prior. At his feet was our companion Buliwyf, nude and bound, by the corpse of our fallen fourth companion. The weak Eleeti we had last seen her with stood quietely rebuked in the corner. The walls were a ghastly white. I took no notice of anything else as I marched forth towards the necromancer unsure of what I would do once I reached him. 

Vestangilus had no interest in me, however, for it was the spell book of the wizard he desired. Apparently the book, which I would come to learn had been the possession of the Priestess Aya, was as old as it was arcane. It holds no true pages of its own, only the pages that will be of the most use to its master. In the priestess' possession it was a tome of prayers and histories, in our wizard's, a book of the darkest arts, specifically the same spell book that had brought power and corruption to the black clad bastard before us.

The two casters of corruption bartered for the book, but it was our wizard, Wilhelm, who finally saw the light and unsheathed a peculiar blade, a kris, he had bought some time prior during our adventures at sea. The necromancer laughed at the blade's paltry magic, believing that our wizard intended to use it against him. Instead he brought its hell down upon that book of evil and spite! Its pages pierced the world again became sublime in its brightness and darkness.

Still in the armor of the Az Neul Fni I awoke with a ringing in my ears along side my companions, for Buliwyf in the chaos of such great magics, and the mercy of lord Ainu, had been restored to our company! Indeed it was of great glory, though his anger over seeing the body of our fourth over came any delight he might have had in breathing the sweet crisp winter air once more.

Regaining our composure and the mighty blade of the sea we returned, with the aid of the wizard's last scroll of teleport, to Darokin where a most brilliant plan of justice and retribution was devised.  

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of the Peradur and Nerull
from the register of Lucian Sepulveda

It has taken me a great deal to finally be able to ruminate and record the horrors of Darokin. Which is not to say that as the youth I was I did not take tremendous satisfaction in that day's harvesting.

We moved at slightly more than a canter down towards the rear of the Prince's forces. The wraith wall stretched out ahead of us in almost all directions. It moved silently. Behind it perhaps five or six score of the slowest and most pitiful undead I have ever had the misfortune of laying my eyes upon. Had they souls I believe my mere gaze could have leveled the lot of them.

As is his custom Buliwyf took the initiative and with a great sweep of Ostead leveled a great many of their numbers. My scythe was quick to follow suit.  In not even a quarter of an hour we had broken the evil tethers that held those miserable together. What we had not done was determine the best means of penetrating the spectral divide that creeped ahead at an unholy canter. 

This problem was solved shortly by the wizard and his hobbled mockery of life. Where before the wizard had to allow his construct to act of its own evil accord, for fear of alerting it to our location, that day on the plains there was no reason to hide. With a curse of the tongue the creature lumbered laboriously through the throngs of undead inside the wall. As the wall continued its foward march the cacaphony of corpses left behind was revealed! Of interest was a feint pulse of life.

The cleric of Nerull was dead by the time I dismounted to examine the body. Around his neck hung a most vile and magicked amulet. According to the wizard it had the power to make the wearer seem to be that most vile of creatures. No sooner had this been revealed than Buliwyf insisted I be the one to wear the wretched thing. I had my reservations but knowing that it was the only course of action I offered my prayers to lord Ainu and allowed Veloria to go back to dust from which I had summoned her.  

As if in accordance to my prayers a second amulet was soon availed to us, and with the wizard's own magics, we were able to then pass through that wretched wall. 

This wall was different than the one that blanketed Threshold. There the buildings were not threatened by it. Here there was no such thing. With our deadened senses we were able to see through the fog as though it were almost not there. Pelor shined brightly upon us, though we only saw in tones of gray, and I felt as though we were truly blessed by the pantheon of grace and justice.

What we witnessed first inside were some of the more physically adept of the festering forces carrying the raw material that was likely to be used in constructing the seige engines that were to aide in the destruction of Darokin. These we hobbled quickly as the meager monstrosities paid us no mind. We dispatched many of them with ease. Soon it became almost a game as the northman and I exercised our martial practices. This went uninterrupted for some time. It was a flickering of life that alerted me of another of Nerull's worshippers. 

I believe the pitiable soul had tried, in his own manner, to rebuke us, but had not counted our the indominitability of our spirit or the swiftness of foot that came with lungs no longer dependent on graces of the wind. As the cloth of Nerull unfurled a scroll of some abberation I quickly taught him the true meaning of slaughter as my sycthe cut deep into his belly. Just as I saw what I believe to be the man's stomach spill out into his robes, held in only by the rope he wore at his waist, Buliwyf drove Ostead deep into the man's chest, no doubt splitting his clavicle, and finishing what I had started. From his shattered remains the wizard retrieved another amulet and we witnessed the horrors the wraith wall unleash upon unprotected flesh. It took only moments for the flesh to decay and rot into nothingness. Not even maggots could feed of what little bits of flesh and bone remained.

I have focused on this one poor cleric of Nerull because he was just the first of several who would fall at our hands that day, all in a much similar manner. Those who did not fall at our blades were done in by the constructs of the wizard, one of which being a leviathan of bone and fangs. 

I will end this registry entry on a note I wish had never been sung. I had long suspected my indiginous people, the Peradur, had allied themselves with the Prince. Other than an inclination, perhaps divine, I had no evidence other than word that Veknavarius had enlisted aid from the far reaches of the north east. Damnable as that was the mortal man inside me hoped that in the millenia since my first life things would have changed for the Peradur. How mistaken I was! For as we three made our way to what we percieved to be the center of the wraith wall we were greeted, rebuked, by a man with an uncanny resemblence to myself! From beneath his dark hood I could make out his thin face and black curls. From the arch of his nose I could tell he was of the House Malverus

With an insufferable rage I let loose a single bolt from the crossbow gifted to me in Isebe by a family with nothing else to tithe. Though I had not seen into the man's eyes, covered as they were by his hood, I knew deep down, though feeling cut off from lord Ainu, that it was this man's time. 

And again in the desecrated fog of the wraith wall I felt Ainu answer my prayers for he guided that bolt, of Rhoonian construct, deep into the back of the man's throat. Though Buliwyf quickly followed through with his axe, sundering the man's head, he was already dead. Like the Peradur as a people the man had failed. I will never, and do not care, to know his name. With the last of his magics he had tried to rebuke us, and unlike those miscreants of Nerull, he had almost succeeded. 

But he, like the prince and all those who dream of using those who have fallen as a means of power, was doomed to failure. Lord Ainu alone is master of the book of life and death.  

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In the wake, a ride tide looms.

From our serene position high above the fields surrounding Darokin, who could have thought such a bloody massacre could have taken place. However, since I continue to dictate, it must be apparent that we were not the dead, but rather the perpetrators of the massacre.

I have come to have a new respect for the Necromantic arts and my powers. It is truly apparent that my wisdom lies within the domain of control and creation rather than the casting of spells and cantrips. I have found my calling and I heed.

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tithings and delays
from the register of Lucian Sepulveda

On account of Isebe being the recipient of Palthos' latest pandemic I have found my employment in great need. This should suffice as to why I have been tardy in my recitations. 

With this free moment I would like to note the grand morning my companions and I began our flanking of The Pretender and his forces. Truly the day that Veknavarius must have realized great powers were conspiring against him and that his victory was far from certain. Powers greater than giants of bone armed with boulders and morning stars. Greater than his hordes of the pathetic and decaying. 

Pelor was late in the heavens as the wizard, Buliwyf, and I looked out over the Prince's armies. We had endured a great deal that day. Blows that would have sent lesser men to my lord Ainu were dealt onto us, but for naught, for as we gazed down on those wretched marchers I could feel Ainu blessing me with even more of his divine grace. I felt his powers re-invigerating the body he had granted me to use upon these mortal planes. In epiphany new prayers were made manifest and convictions, never in doubt, redoubled! 

I let out a laugh that afternoon and took rest.

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of death and devotion; a diversion
from the register of Lucian Sepulveda

I have on the general brought my recollections of Darokin to order, but still do not feel as though my faculties are of diligent enough measure to express them justly.

In recalling those days I was reminded of my masquerade as the Az Neul Fni. That escapade will be chronicled upon these pages soon, but what it meant to me then is the subject upon which I am to reflect, for it was following that faux-visage that I came to love and revere my lord Ainu in a wholly new light. 

In her service to Palthos my companion Perditia was also known as the Az Nuel Fni, the first Vector. Though I have never come into contact with any of the others I am aware of their existence and the great plagues they have wrought and the epidemics they have conquered. Wearing the hydra's scales I became aware, for the first time, that there are no other Harvesters. I am alone in this duty.

Respected by the clerics of death's many congregations, yes, but always alone. Where my brothers must shave their heads as part of their indoctrination I am allowed to let mine grow however long I wish. The scythe I carry is as much a weapon as it is my symbol of office. Aside from my former companion I have never met another of my clergy who openly laughs and smiles. The mortal realm offers so many joyous things. Not even lord Ainu is as dour as old Xanatos! 

I've lived now what in my first life I would have considered the fullest extent of mortal breath. I have knocked on many a door to collect the soul's lord Ainu wishes. Though I know they will go on to the highest honors, as gardeners, stable men, and brewers, I am always saddened by the lack of understanding those left behind express. It is why I do not join the clergy. 

"Brother Lucian," Brother Isthmus of Ibion said to me, "you have grown gray at the temples. Does it not strike you as the time to settle and serve Ainu in the most proper sense?" No, I said. As much as I am fueled by my convictions, my dedication absolute, I think it would tear at my heart to watch entire generations come and pass. Rare is it as a Harvester that I know at all the souls I collect. Yes, some, of course, like dear Buliwfy and blessed Pall, but those are the great exceptions for I knew of the tremendous laurels the greatest of the gods had awaiting them.  

No, I could never settle down. Veloria would never let me. We've spanned to much of this world's history together now to stop our travels. The hand of death is universal, even in these peaceful times. 

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Heard within the Temple of Demera in Darokin, whispered by a giant of a man at the east wall

“I have wasted my life on many things, even when I have tried to live it as a man should. My family, my lands are far from here, All Father, yet I am ready as any to stand and fight and die, should my Skein by written as such. These people, these Southerners, these few that stand beside me, as strange as they are and sometimes, so frustratingly…different, are what I have now and the people we protect. They are what is valuable, even if I cannot seem to keep them all alive. My langniĆ°iar, my bloodline of kings and farmers are so far and mean so little now I will be buried as a pauper, as all I have now is my hands and my sword.

But I make no excuses nor will I beg any god or any man, Old Gallows God. I will stand as proud in these next days and brave, I promise you, as even so Tyr would be. All I ask, in those moments, now and to the end, is that I live and I fight well.

I come soon to the table, Olon and I will be thirsty.”

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Darokin, preparing for its defense and the unworthy who I met there
from the register of Lucian Sepulveda

This will be in brevity for it has been so long since I've allowed my thoughts to dwell on those dark days in Darokin.

What comes to mind first is the woman the Pretender disguised himself as in Threshold, Natalia. She was of a certain charm as I understand that certain charm to be, and it was obvious the hawkeye Rair was taken with her. She was confident and poised, but much like the Pretender, false. Her certainity that the first death was a result of love is as silly as it is naive. But I suppose that is how those in their first life think. Sometimes I wish I hadn't felt so aloof in the spryer days of my second life.

What follows Natalia, in my memories of the miserable, was the halfling vampire Quicksilver, who ensnared the mind of that weak willed Wilhelm. Were it not at the insistence of the halfling Chavelle I would have gladly done all to bring that atrocity to its knees so I could liberate its head from its breast.

But those two, like all others, had their part to play and though Ainu's hands on this earth, I am not his heart or mind and must follow through with his machinations. 

What comes to mind more readily is the companion I had in those days, the young Rhoode Pall, who had taken up death's vocation. Though he was a creature of curiosity and joy it touched me that he took his studies with a seriousness and dedication. On the first day of preparing for the seige I taught him the most practical of the magics Ainu blesses his followers with, the spell of digging. Together we used our magics to lay out a series of trenches around this town in order to better defend it. Rair, though weak towards the feminine charms, did a great deal with his magics to also ward off the evil that encrouched.

This registry is growing ever more taxing and I confess it may be some time until I am able to describe the despair of Darokin.  

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