Carrion Crown: Kyle's

Estovion journal

Rova (September) 14th It appears that my past has come back to haunt me, in the form of unexpected visitors who arrived last night. Ostensibly nobles from Courtaud, they bore invitations from Adivion Adrissant in Caliphas, and Belik admitted them to see me. Their leader, a disturbing man named Auren Vrood who wore sinister-looking bone spaulders, confided to me that they were agents of the Whispering Way, come to finally collect the debt I owe them for helping me with the spirit I discovered at the Stairs so long ago. Vrood “requested” that I arrange a meeting between him and one of the werewolves of the wood. Though I would prefer to have nothing more to do with them (for my youthful indiscretions were just that), I saw no choice but to acquiesce to their demands, lest they reveal my secrets to the Palatine Council. As Mathus is my sole ally among the packs, I will speak to him and arrange a meeting, and hopefully I can wash my hands of this whole sordid affair.

Rova (September) 16th Vrood and his fellows have returned. Though I made my office available to them, they declined and requested a meeting with Madame Ivanja instead. Mathus arrived shortly after and went straight to Ivanja’s tower as well. I was somewhat surprised by their choice of location, but I suppose even necromancers and werewolves have their needs. I spoke briefly with Mathus after the meeting, but he was unusually withdrawn and gave no hint of what was said at the meeting.

Lamashan (October) 1st A grave threat has befallen the Shudderwood, and I fear its origins lie at Ascanor. Unknown forces, almost certainly agents of Vrood and the Whispering Way, have attacked the Stairs, butchered Kvalca Sain, and stolen her heart for some dark purpose. Although their motives remain a mystery, this single act has thrown the entire hierarchy of the Shudderwood’s packs into disarray and violence.

I know that it is customary when a packlord dies for her successor to consume the fallen packlord’s heart. With Sain’s heart gone, the position of packlord shall fall to whoever can claim the title, either by recovering the lost heart, or more likely through force, by slaying the leaders of the four rival tribes and adopting the surviving wolves into his own pack.

Mathus has spoken with me before of his desire to become packlord, and I now wonder if his secret meeting with Vrood was the impetus behind these events. Without Sain’s heart, however, I doubt the other tribes will accept Mathus as their leader. He might find allies with the Prince’s Wolves or the Broken Ones, but the Primals and Demon Wolves will never bow to his rule.

Mathus’s concerns doubtlessly lie with his pack, not with me, however, and I worry my alliance with the Silverhides shall soon be forfeit. I fear greatly for the safety of the lodge, for if Mathus moves to take Highthrone without Sain’s heart, or if it becomes known that his ascendance is due to the Whispering Way’s interference, civil war will soon erupt among the packs of the wood, with Ascanor caught in the middle.

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The Halo of Dreams

The origin of the Dusk Moth can be traced back to pre-Thassilonian Varisia, though the role it played in those ancient times has been lost to history. During the Age of Enthronement, Desna’s priests recovered the relic from the ruins of Thassilon, and carried it into the Shudderwood during the founding of Ustalav. There the priests constructed a temple to the goddess of dreams and disassembled the Dusk Moth, incorporating its parts into a great observatory atop the temple, which they dubbed the Stairs of the Moon. High atop the observatory, during the twilight hour, the faithful enacted a sacred ritual of communion to activate the power of the Dusk Moth, placing them in a heightened dream-state in which they could commune directly with the Song of the Spheres.

Estovions notes: There is a section of the highthrone that even the werewolves are unaware of. Its a secret chamber, that are said to contain the dusk moth, or wings of the goddess. My research suggests it is possible to contact the goddess herself. I believe the ritual will bestow a power that will enhance my abilities, perhaps even enough to control the vilkcaris properly.

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Last moments of Alika Second Arrow of Erastil.

Alika tried to attune her senses to the foreign surrounds of Shutterwood. The smells, the shadows and trees were so dissimilar to what she was used to, as all the braches seemed to reach for her and drag her into the darkness. She could no longer hear the mummers of Hoot as he pursued their quarry which had been some time ago. Curse the others for not following her. She has given so much to have Ulili restored by sacrificing much to her god, and now she felt a sense of abandonment as she tried to find her way through the darkness. How righteous are those who claim to follow the sun yet leave their comrades in the shadow. “Curse them again,” she thought to herself.

Picking through the darkness she could see the watch light fires of the wall surrounding the lodge. Her heart swelled with hope as she had found her way back, Erastil was truly watching over her. “They will have a lot of explaining to do as why they did not follow, a wolf is only as strong as its pack” she whispered to herself. However, something answered back. The woods around her creaked and cracked in pain around her, moaning in the most guttered and sputtered speech “your friends have abandoned you, there is no hope, no light, only the desperation of forlorn desires of your inevitable failure”. Snatching an arrow from her quiver she yelled “who said that!” Edging it way into the light of her spell, hope did fall from her heart as a corrupted tree presented it self from the darkness. Seizing the moment Alika immediately put three arrows into the beast, black sap oozing for the wound. The creature just grinned with it gapping maw.

“What devilry is this” she yelled. However, by now it was too late, the ground around her feet erupted as black tendrils of the creature roots exploded to grasp and snag her boots and leggings. As she felt the touch on the creatures’ branches an overwhelming fear gripped her soul. Memories that were not hers flooded her mind, she saw a darkness overwhelm the lands, and feeling of being trapped and submitting, a feeling of loss as Erastil abandoned her. Mostly she saw her uncles’ soul being dragged to hell by the grasping hands of ghouls as they pulled him into the pit, as she stood on a lip of a chasm. He screamed in agony as it was ripped apart and devoured, calling out for help that would not come. Beleaguered by this assault, she turned attempted to flee these memories as fast as field mouse scampers away from that of a hungry cat. Yet this also proved futile. With every advancing step, the braches and roots of the corrupt tree pulled her back. For every inch she made head way with she was dragged 10 feet back towards the grinning maw of the creature. “No, NO,” she screamed as the maw grew closer. Frantic she clawed at the ground, ripping nails and scrapping skin off her fingers in an effort to escape. Her effort only excited the creature as it drew in her fear with a deep sucking of air. As she turned she saw the maw, as she continued her frantic efforts to be released. She felt her boot touch the inner of the creatures month as it snapped shoot tearing ligaments and snapping bone. She screamed in pain, as the creature began to suck her flesh and rend her body. Blood spluttered from her lips as the creature worked it way up her legs to ravaging the waist of her body.

“W—-why have they forsaken me…”she murmured as life slipped away from her body, blood spurting from her month . “Erastil, avenge me..” she tried to speak, but to no avail as no answer was returned. “Somebody, help…plesaseee…” she squeaked as life left her body. Her eyes closed over, and she welcomed the darkness as the creature drew her whole body in with a deep inhale. She heard the Professor probe her mind too late, as with one last slurp, she was gone. Someone was watching but. Far above the material plane, something was watching through the veil of time and space, gazing into a pool, surrounded by harmony. The being saw the loss of faith in the people eyes, the loss of friends and family, the loss of hope. Fire burned in the creatures’ heart as it saw the black shadow of the whispering way grow stronger with the death of this arrow caster. A feeling of hatred that this creature had not felt in a very long time ignited in its soul. This feeling gave strength to fingers and bones cracked with life. Heat emanated from its body. Creatures and angels scampered as the fire leapt from it skin as a blast of flame left it body as it cried out in anguish. Water sizzled, flowers weltered, grass turned to ash and the ground melted as they creature howled in pain, dropping tears of fire from its face. Not being able to take any more, the creature leapt into the pool, only to fall, leaving only a blasted hole where it once stood and witnessed the fall of Alika.

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Showdown in Ascanor

The Watcher managed to convince his fellow adventurers to accompany him to the guest room, to talk over what each member had discovered so far about the fellow patrons of Ascanor. Suspicious activity was on the tongue of more than one of the party members as each brought forward evidence that was concerning. Mingling amongst the guest in the grand Ballroom illuminated many concerns over Ascanor lodges security. The patrons loyalties or dark dealings, was also questionable. As the adventurers made their way to their rooms, Ecthelion kept his distance from the Watcher, still angry at the Watchers decision to evoke a strange premonition on the entire party without their consent. It had been a grave disrespect to the paladin in particular, mainly because of his history. Ecthelion had told the people he trusted? How his father had sold his sister Saera, to a demon. The deal had been made to prolong Ecthelions mother’s life. Ecthelion still today had trouble blocking out the images of the attack that occurred Solku, Katapash, all those years ago.

The unsanctioned of divination the Watcher, drudged up all those bad memories which had taken months of meditation and prayer to Sarenrae, for Ecthelion, to finally put the memories behind him. It had been his mechanism for coping with his sister’s disappearance, confronting all forms of evil wherever they may lie, in the hope one day he would find and slay the monster responsible for kidnapping, his twin sister Sawra. The event had forced Ecthelion to kill his own mother Ilyena and father Epstien due to the taint in their blood, as passed from the contact with the lower planes signed with blood. It was Echelion belief that killing his parents with a weapon blessed by Sarenrae herself, perhaps Sarenraes holy fires could purify his parent’s souls before the taint ever set in. It was not something that the halfling easily got over. But it was the reason he now adventured. Every beast, outsider or abomination was purified by his light. Every disease cured lead one step closer to a cleaner Golarion.

Ecthelion was sure many of his fellow adventurers did not understand the true extent of his devotion. But how could they understand a man so devout in his beliefs he killed his own parents. How could they understand his religion, his beliefs and values? With the exception of Lancel, few in his party were devout. None would be prepared in Ecthelions mind to kill a loved one to save their soul from hell. Pharasma would not judge Ecthelion’s actions lightly when it came to her judgement of him in the eternal boneyard, but Ecthelion knew Sarenrae would save him from damnation. She was his light, his warmth, his beacon in the darkness. She would heal those whom need healing. She would offer swift justice to those whom deserved it. He would not subject any soul to live out an eternal servitude to a demon. He could still remember the wicked creatures face when it ripped his sister from the material plane. Those whom he once he called parents faces over time had disappeared into the light. There spirts absolved of their sins. But now the halfling knew his parents faces would return in his nightmares. He would not rest easy tonight. And it was the Watchers fault.

As the party reached the guest room at the lodge, Scarlett noticed the door was not locked. Scarlett remembered specifically locking the door. Entering the room with caution as they spread out into the room to ensure there were no hidden surprises, the adventurers found several notes that had been placed on their beds. The notes read as “My friends, your investigations place you in grave danger. Beware the wolves who watch the woods. They see all, but leave no traces. Some secrets are better left uncovered. Leave Ascanor before you too fall prey to its curse”. Taking a moment, discussing the implications of the notes the adventurers took the time to have a heart to heart. It was the Watcher whom would speak first.

The Watcher began with speculating that agents of the Whispering Way could be in the stables here at the lodge. While peering through a window of the stables with a clairvoyance spell, the Watcher had seen two men in dark cloak figures praying next to candles. As he watched the barely lit room, he saw the figures dip needles into a black liquid vial and then put them on a bracelet concealing them from plain view. The watcher had heard stories from Ecthelion about how the way communicated with whispers. That they did not communicate face to face, rather they transferred their dark philosophies via whispers. They never speak loudly, making their exact details of their dark philosophies harder for outsiders to decipher. “After briefly reading their minds – another scowl came over Ecthelons face – I believe they have a connection to the Whispering way. The two men are praying or chanting secrets in their mind. They also chant of something called that Anaphexia. I do not know how this is connected to the Carrion Crown you spoke of in Lepidstadt, but maybe this Anaphexia has some sort of significance”. Many of the party members began to rub their chins with quizzical expressions. The Watchers information had only begged for more questions and investigation about the lodge to be asked. Several adventures were locked in deep thought, searching their minds to remember anything about the Anaphexia. But even with their collective knowledge, they had nothing.

With that in mind Lancel offered “My father Elmore Dane, fought agents of the Whispering way in his youth. Members of the dark cult were planning on obtaining a rare extract only found in a stillborn fetus of a dead dragon. My father and his friends prevented them from obtaining the extract, even managing to subdue a few of the way members alive. However it was only when my father had knocked out a way agent the man began to foam at the mouth and went into wild convulsions. Soon the Whispering Way agents eyes turned blood red and his entire jaw began to dissolve right infront of my father. It was later found the Whispering Way use an elixir to prevent their enemies from stealing their members’ secrets, even after death. Elite cultists typically imbibe deathgag elixir as part of an elaborate initiation ritual when they are promoted to high-ranking positions in the cult. Thereafter, when the users fall unconscious the elixir triggers, releasing a fatal poison that throws him into wild convulsions. So we must be careful in how we subdue these men, otherwise we shall learn nothing from them“.

“Are we sure they are the traitors?” Scarlett speculated. Ulli suggested a wait and see approach. “We have time. They best way to catch err wolf is to err set a trap for it”. Lancel and Ecthelion shook their heads. A wait and see approach would not work. Ecthelion in particular had been tracking the Whispering Way for more than two months, only to have been left asking more questions. If this was a chance to get ahead of the cult the halfling would take it. “We cannot wait. We cannot trust Estovion either, to do the right thing. If the servants of the lodge are working for Estovion, or acting alone hiding these dark occultists, we must impose our own justice upon them and the lodge itself. Keeping in mind the innocent lodges guests must be kept safe from any volence that may ensue. There is no harm if these men have nothing to hide to simply question them, armed and prepared should they try anything funny”. Alika gave Ecthelion a trouble look. “We should not act outside the confines of the lodge authority. They have lived here for many years. We should approach Estovion and question him about these so called Whispering Way agents before storming off and arresting these men without raison d’être, or without legal authority. The lodge here is a community in their own right. They have their own codes and laws. I would not like to spit in Estovions face by imposing our authority upon the lodge. We are not the wardens here”. “Speak for yourself” Ulli replied.

“So what do you know of these men“, Carrow said, to force the Watcher to re-present the facts. The watcher turned looking out the balcony to the open courtyard. To his right he could see the hedge maze, to his left the stables. “I am positive these men are agents of the Whispering Way. Our investigations have led us this far, to the lodge. We know from what Ulli learnt from the Silverhides that someone indeed here at the lodge is a traitor, not only to the werewolves, but to human kind as well by falling into undead depravities. You ask me why I believe them occultist, why are they hidden away in a stable from the rest of the lodge’s guests. Why do they chant about dark things? Why do they speak of the dead? Why do they have books with symbols written in blood?” The Watcher knew his last statement was not entirely factual, he had only seen them write something in the book with their own blood. “Why do they only speak and communicate via gestures or whispers? Everything Echtelion and Lancel had told me of the Whispering Way suggests these men’s involvement. They think of death and killing. I do not wish to spend a night sleeping in Ascanor knowing that these men could kill us in our sleep. Especially if they learn we are here to bring them to justice for the deaths of Ecthelions friends and their invisible hand that nearly lead to the destruction of Lepidstadt”.

“Why not set watch” Ulli offered. “Deal them morning” he followed up. “If they make a move wer will know about it”. “Well we have been travelling all day, and I myself am quite fatigued from the ritual I used to restore Ulli’s mind” Alika said looking quite tired. “And have them escape” Lancel suggested, banging his fist against a nearby wall. “I am with you Ecthelion, let us confront them with due haste, despite what the others say“. “If the Watcher speaks the truth, Sarenrae will illuminate their intentions to us. We will just have to have a chat with them, amnd let them explain their strange behavior” Ecthelion added. The cool night breeze flowed in through the open balcony doors as the watcher began to tie a rope around the balcony’s fence. “Well, let us not walk back through the lodge so heavily armed” the Watcher suggested. “You keep causing trouble’ Ulli said. “This will bite us in the ass like a hidden wolf” he further added.

Ullis words fell on empty ears as Ecthelion, Lancel, Carrow and his puppet Lilth, Alika and the Watcher made their way off the balcony’s 10ft drop to the courtyard. Scarlett simply thought to herself “You fool’s. You seek out an early grave with such behavior. You jump to conclusions without evidence. But your actions may prove a good distraction to search Estovions office for clues for information about patrons of the lodge. His records or journal would surely have information on the comings and goings of the lodge“. A smirked crossed Scarlets face. “I‘ll be down in a moment“, she called out to her friends whom were making their way silently as possible across the courtyard to the stables. Scarlett slipped on the ring of invisibility and slipped out into the main hallway, without even Ulli noticing until the door shut. Ulli constantly shaking his head also had other ideas. He would slip over to the holding pens and free the two pups Yeselda had told him about. “I cover you from here” the ranger called, sticking close to the rope. Ulli thought to himself “Will be lucky if the whole dam guard does not come and kill us all for causing such a ruckus“. He notched an arrow and gave the rest of the group a nod, informing them that he would be ready when the breached, covering anyone that tried to escape. As the party lost sight of the ranger in the darkness of the night Ulli snuck across the courtyard to the holding pens.

At the door of the stables, Ecthelion and Lancel could see the large lock on the door. The Watcher and Alika moved to cover the windows. Carrow stayed back away from the main door, not wanting to get caught in a melee confrontation were his psionic abilities would not be as effective as he hoped. Carrow knew he could not focus his mind properly when dodging swords or arrows. But it was dark tonight. Carrow had already spent a large portion of his power reserve dominating or influencing the minds of the guest and patrons of the lodge at the grand ballroom. He had learnt allot more than he had anticipated in one night. “Just like puppets“, the doctor thought to himself. “Kill anything that tries to hurt the others” he told Lilith. The dolls eyes blankly stared back at him, not even blinking.

“Where was Scarlet when she was needed” Ecthelion thought. Not wanting to wait for the rogue Lancel began to kick in the door, trying to dislodge the lock. Instinctively the Watcher dropped a card from his deck of illusions through the window. Alika conjured a glowing arrow that would allow the paladins to see in the dark stable. Ecthelion flicked on his goggles of dark vision, waiting for Lancel to kick in the door. Carrow and Lilith focussed their minds, ready to unleash devastating psionic blasts or impulses when the enemy appeared. One kick, two kicks from the paladin did not break the lock. Ecthelion tried to ram it with his shoulder to burst open the door, bits of wood splinter off the door and the hinges buckled but the door was still attached. Alika decided to call forth her friend Bazoozu the owl bear.

Rotrre

The candles in the stable were put out as the first bang on the door. Both of the Anaphexia agents attacked the illusion of a druidic woman conjured by the deck of illusions. As there blades struck the woman’s form hitting nothing but thin air, the monk assassins knew it was an illusion. They changed tactics drinking enlarge potions to shock the intruders and get advantage. Unable to see anything due to the darkness of the stable the Watcher tipped some marbles in through the window, hoping one of the monks would trip and be easily subdued by the breaching paladins.

Finally the door gave way as Lancel dropped another shoulder into it. The hinges snapped and Lancel sprawled into the dark room, with Ecthelion quickly following behind. Lancel could not see the intruder. Ectherlion however could. He saw the monks had drunk potions to enlarge their size, wielding rapiers that an icy frost covered there tips. Ecthelion charged at the first assailant only to be struck in the shoulder. The rapier was like touching icy, it left a burning sensation in his shoulder and made his body quiver with a chill. The other figure followed up the attack. Ecthelion could see that they had been martially trained to anticipate their compatriot’s attacks and press advantage. Ecthelion knew if they managed to surround him or if he lost his footing he would be in dire trouble.

An arrow came screaming through the window from Alika’s bow illuminating the room with light. As soon as he could see the enemy Carrow tried to brain locked one of the monks while Lilth loosed a blast of her own psionic sonic kinetic energy. The monk managed to shake off Carrow lock and contorted its body in the same motion as to dodge most of the sonic blast. One of the Anaphixia agents gets in behind Ecthelion, flanking him. What is worse, the light in the room faded. The room goes dark again as Alika’s arrow enchantment fades. The pair Anaphixia agents began to simultaneously strike at the halfling with lightning fast strikes. The halfling takes a hit to the shoulder, forearm and abdomen. Ecthelion calls upon is lay on hands and closes over a wound before launching his own assault, striking one of the dark cloak men across the face. Lancel moved into support his halfliung friend whom was in trouble. A little brash with his attack Lancel takes a blow to his chest puncturing his lung (critical hit). The young paladin had misread the range of his attackers reach. Lancel began to cough up blood, spitting it on the ground as his lungs fill up with blood. “Gods dammit” he said, despite the consequence his words may have with Iomedae.

Lancel decided to heal himself and Ecthelion of some of his wounds, releasing a channeled burst of positive energy. The burst also healed the two assassin monks, whom pelted Ecthelion with lightning fast razor like punctures with their rapiers. But Lancel knew the numbers were on his side and if they could hold out against the monks long enough with him and Ecthelion engaging them, sooner or later the combined magic of Alinka, the Watcher, Carrow and Lilith, the party would overcome the enemy. Alika shot an arrow scoring a hit amongst the carnage, with another arrow imbued with light.

Carrow brought forward an aversion in one the Anaphixia monks mind. Despite the monks training and disciplined mind, a deep fear instilled in the man from a young age to an accident underground, resurfaced in the assassins mind. The man was pulled beneath the ground and enveloped in darkness, coughing up dirt as he was buried alive. Instinctively the assassins thoughts turned to “I must get out of the dark…. or I will die”. The impulse that his brain sent his body was to flee or risk certain death. Lilith let loose another sonic kinetic blast. This time the second monk did not dodge it, as his larger than normal size slowed down his ability to react. Outnumbered three to one, the monk began a flurry of blows with his rapier, hoping the flurry would be enough to drop one of the paladins. The room went dark again as Alika’s imbued arrow of light disappeared again. The Watcher had covered all the windows, preventing any escape except for the front door were the large owlbear stood guard. In the pitch black, with the fear overtaking him that he would be buried alive, the second monk made a dash for the door. However Bazoozu, Alika’s owlbear was there ready to intercept. Ecthelion landed a blow on the monk in the dark as he moved to run past, able to see the monk in the dark with his dark vision goggles. Bazoozu also scored a hit with his claw. Outside the stable the monks mind relaxed again as the light of the continued flames around the lodge prevented the aversion to darkness from taking hold once more.

Growing n confidence the paladins moved in on the remaining monk in the stable. Both scored two hits each as they flanked the man. With his ritual sacrifice of cutting his tongue off the man would have screamed if it was still attached, as another one of Ecthelions hits opened up a large gash on his abdomen. Lancel cut he monk across his forearm and outer thy, with is longsword. Carrow concentrated focusing on the monk whom was afraid of the darks mind again. This time the Doctor sent a de’javu impulse through the Anaphexia assassins mind to continue to run, while Lilith, the blank emotionless doll tried to set the monk on fire. It was a cruel vindictive way of killing a person, but he doctor thought it appropriate after hurting Ecthelion so bad. They could question his body afterwards.

By this time capturing the two men was no longer an option. Instead Ecthelion and Lancel decided they would use the two Assassins journals and find out what they could about what they were doing at Ascanor. With the monk outside exposed Alika took her time and slotted an arrow through one of the assassin monk’s leg. Inside the stables the remaining assassin monk hit Ecthelion once again, but he as holding his own concentrating on defense while he continued to heal his wounds. Lancel could feel his entire right lung was now full with blood. The paladin started to have trouble breathing. He knew someone would have to clear the lung of blood before he could heal it properly. Bravely, with little guard for his body, the paladin moved in. Lancels second hit dislodged the assassin monks head from his body, decapitating him.

Filled with the urge to run, the second assassin monk headed for the gate. But not before Bazoozu hit him again with another claw. Alika followed up the owlbears attack hitting the fleeing man in the shoulder as he ran with another arrow. Lilith could see the assassin monk heading for the gate. Carrow adjusted her psionic strings and changed her tactic. She instead conjured a wall of ice psionic energy infront of the half opened gate. Around the interior of Ascanor guards came rushing. Cries of alarms began to fill the air. Several whistles were blown and hounds with masters in toe came rushing towards the stables. The interior of the lodge also began to light up once more, as patrons lit candles walking out of here balconies to see what all the fuss was about. Carrow forced another impulse into the monks mind. “Run little poppet”, with another feeling of de’javu. The monk ran again, straight into the sonically created ice wall. Bazoozu gave the monk the remaining killer blow, running up to the monk and tearing out his neck with his powerful beak.

During the battle Ulli snuck across the courtyard over to the holding pens. The ranger had come prepared. He tossed some stolen raw steaks off Yharlocs plate in the grand ballroom to the two hounds that guarded the door. They began to growl at each other as they fought over the steaks. Moving up to the Ulli bent the lock enough so he could squeeze through the door. He knew Delgros was a more than average ranger so he took the time to remove any wolf hairs snagged on the doorway from his coat. He would deal with the tracks latter.

Inside the holding pens Ulli could see quite crude holding pens, sleeping draughts, herbs and chains kept the beasts inside quite docile. To his right the ranger could see an ettecap that had its poisonous glands removed, looking at him as if to communicate. Elsewhere there were two cells with large tarantula spiders. It looks as though somebody had been brushing the spiders daily to remove the nasty hairs that shot at hostiles, which left an irritating rash and in rare cases could blind if they connected with the eyes. Two large dire wolves, several boas and a dire boar, a baby Qurupecco, a dozen or so wolves and foxes, and a few goblins that had been gagged were also held in the pens. The other cage Ulli had not searched contained the two natural werewolf pups Yeselda had told him about. The two pups were in their human forms, by the looks of them, they had been staving and had little strength left in them. They did not whimper, they simply moved to the darker corner of their cell as they smelt Ullis presence. Ulli could tell from the look of them Delgros had regularly beaten them to be more docile, taking there will to fight out of them. “A cruel fate” Ulli thought to himself momentarily. Ulli lit his bullseye lantern and began to search the room for the keys. He knew Delgros by reputation. The man was a risk taker and often liked to torment the creatures he captured. The keys would be close by, definitely in sight of the cages.

As he searched the room, Ulli could hear outside the faint sound of clashing metal. He knew the people whom came with him to the lodge were fighting someone. But he did not care. The people he travelled with did not listen to him. Their fates were their own. They did not respect the woods as he did. Or the authority of the denizens that inhabited it. “They walk their own path”.

Finally he found the keys to the cells and moved to open the cage. Before he opened the cage he tossed in a scarf of Yeseldas to the pups. Immediately the pups picked up the scent. “Don’t you bite, Yeselda sent me. I help you get out”. Unsure whether the werewolves knew common tongue Ulli waited a moment. The bigger of the two children came out of the corner, dragging his shackled chains behind him. “You’re here to help us? How can we be sure? The other man says the same thing, leaves open gate only to have us try to escape, so he can beat us more”. ”Smell” Ulli said. “That is Yeselda Sain, daughter of Kavaka scent. You should also be able to smell her scent on me. She sent me to help”. Ulli pulled out four vials that Yeselda had left him. Two were lesser restoration potions which would help the pups get there strength back. The other two were vials of cure light wounds, to remove any bruising or surface damage that had been done by Delgros.

“Drink” Ulli said. “They give you your strength back”. The two pups drank the potions. Ulli then tossed them the remaining steaks. “Eat’n’don’t bite me”. The ranger moved closer and began to unlock the shackles. “You follow me, I help you get outside of wall”. The two children nodded. As they moved outside the cells the oldest of the two children said to Ulli. “The man with the glasses came to take our blood regularly. He kept talking about a red moon. He constantly read the two books locked inside that cupboard over there”. “Did you catch this man’s name”, Ulli questioned. “Estovion Lozarov” the pup replied. “So Estovion does have something to hide? I am sure the werewolves would be allot kinder to me and perhaps even consider Yeselda a candidate for the Highthrone, if I give them the secrets of Estovion and how to blackmail him. Finfally they have a chance and eliminating the last threat in the woods with the lodge out of the way”. Ulli pushed the thoughts aside; he would have to consider what action to take after he read what Estovion had been researching and why he had been extracting blood. But first Ulli had to get into the cupboard to get to the books. Ulli grabbed a nearby crowbar and wrenched the cupboard open, snapping the lock. Inside sure enough were two tomes. Ulli had hardly read anything in his life, but knew they were probably important, so he tried to make out what he could. “D.E.S.N.A R.E.D.M.O.O.N.R.I.T.U.A.L and V.I.L.K.C.A.R.I.S”, the letters made no sense to him, as he could not read. Instead Ulli put them in his backpack.

Ulli then said to the two werewolf pups, “Stay 10 paces behind me at all times”. He moved over to the two tarantula enclosures and damaged the locks. The two creatures unlike most of the other animals were not shacked. He bent the door enough as to leave a large gap. Ulli knew enough about spiders that he knew the two tarantulas would eventually try to fit through the gap. With how he damaged the locks, the doors would snap open easily enough. “A going away present for Delgros” he thought to himself. As he made his way to the door, Ulli could hear whistles and shouts of alarm from the inside of the walls. His friends had stirred up more trouble than he had wished. Ulli would have preferred the guards to be there lazy useless selves. The guards at Ascanor, put too much faith in there hounds to detect intruders, which is why Yeselda had always managed to elude them, and sneak in undetected.

As he squeezed through the door he looked around. Across the courtyard he could see Carrow and Alika attacking a man in a black cloak. Rather than come to their aid the ranger motioned for the two werewolf pups to come through the bent door. Ulli felt for his back pocket to get the other present Yesleda had left him. He pulled a small pouch off his belt. Opening the pouch he grabbed a handful of the dust and began to sprinkle it on the ground. Yeselda used the dust to cover her tracks when avoiding Yharloc. She made plenty of the stuff back at Ulli’s house, often travelling to remote parts of Underwood to collect ingredients. The two children gave Ulli a confusing look. He replied “To cover tracks”. With that the children gave Ulli another look, Ulli knew they understood what he meant.

Ulli lead the children towards the back of the holding pens, keeping to the shadows while moving. “Stop!” the ranger whispered to the pups. Up ahead was a sole guardsman whom was patrolling the rear of the walls while the rest of the men moved towards the gate. Above him Ulli could see the grappling hoof on the fence Yeselda had left on the outside of the wall for the children to limb down. The ranger shook his head. He had no choice. He notched two arrows and drew back his bow. Letting loose the arrows he quickly fired a third and fourth arrow. The first two arrows hit the man in the chest, the third in the inner thy and the last through the neck. The man keeled over backwards clutching his neck. Ulli quickly moved over to the Ascanor guard he had just shot, covering a forty foot open space in a matter of moments. He dragged the man whom was gurgling on blood, dragging him outside of the nearby lights. He grabbed a dagger from his belt. “Sorry friend no choice“, the guards eyes looked in terror at the statement. Ulli thrust the dagger into the guardsman’s heart and with a twist he stopped gurgling and moving.

The two pups behind him gave him a sadistic glare, as though they got some enjoyment out of seeing the man die. Ulli put his dagger back and pulled out a small journal book of his drawings. Flicking through the book, he stopped at a picture of a hybrid werewolf. “Change” he said, showing the pups the picture. The two children began to grow teeth, claws and fur, as they transformed into there hybrid forms. Ulli grabbed the last piece of equipment he would need. Ulli used a rope with an attached grappling hook and tossed it high up onto the wall. “Climb” he whispered, giving the rope a tug to make sure it was secure. The two pups made their way up and over the wall. Ulli could hear them land in the grass as the dropped down. Looking through a small gap in the fence, Ulli said his final words to the pups. “Leave, head back to tribe. Head to Yeselda”. Ulli knew Yeselda would have left an obvious trail for the pups which they could easily follow with their scent. He climbed up the rope pulling the second grappling hook off the wall and then his own. He scaled down the wall and rolled when he hit the ground.

All that was left fr Ulli to d was dispose of the body. He moved over and dug out his arrows. He then and went and sprinkled some more of the dust around the area the ups had climbed up. He dragged the dead Ascanor guard’s body over to a nearby hick set of shrubs, tossing the body in there as to camoflarge it. Ulli knew that sooner or later the body would be found by the hounds or the guards. But hopefully he had camouflage it well enough to buy himself at least a day. He pulled out another jar of dog piss and some rash berry extract, Ulli knew dogs hated the smell off and tipped it around the area, before sprinkling some more dust. Back over in the courtyard he could see Estovion and his friends were having a chat. Several of the guards clutched there weapons anticipating a fight.

Meanwhile back inside the lodge, Scarlett invisible was listening to conversations around several doors. She could hear Corvin reciting some new poetry. She head some noise of grunts and moans of pleasure from Markiza. Whoever was in Markizas room with her was not her husband. Surely it was not Lancel she thought to herself with a wicked grin. The two remaining rooms were Silivions and Cilias. Listening at Silvios door all she could hear was the man writing something. She opened the door gently enough to peek inside. Silivio was writing something down. Ecthelion will help us” Silivio said to himself out loud. Not wanting to press her luck any further she closed the door quietly. “So what has the halfling promised you“, Scarlett though to herself before sneaking further down the corridor. Moving onto Graydons room, Scarlet listened again at the door to judge the distance of whereabouts Graydon was in the room. She opened the door softly, turning the latched. The door creaked as it opened. “Whose there” came a voice from inside. Rather then close the door, Scarlett simply let go, allowing the door to swing open of its own free will. She grabbed her mouth and held her breathe stepping to the side of the door. Cilias moved to the door and looked out either side down he hallways. “Nothing but the wind” Graydon said to himself slamming the door behind him. “Close” Scarlett thought to herself as she exhaled, shaking her head in relief.

The final room was Estovions. She crept through the library and looked around for the books Estovion had been reading in the grand ballroom. Scarlett spotted them resting on a nearby desk. She looked at there spines once more. Most of them had something to do with desna, spirits or history f he shuddered. One of the Desna books had a piece of paper sticking out of it. She pulled the paper out and read it. “Halo of dreams” (see other post), popping it back into her back pouch to study in greater detail later. Moving up to Estovions door Scarlett managed to catch the last few words of a conversation between Belik and Estovion. “You did as I asked” one voice said, Scarlett knew it was Estovions. “Yes” came a swift reply, positive it was Beliks. “I do not trust these new comers, keep your eyes out. Spread the word to the other servants’ that I will offer good coin for anything they hear about them”. “Yes warden’ Belik replied. With that Scarlett could hear the porter moved towards the door, as she saw his shadow underneath it approach.

Once again she concentrated on her breathing, as she had been taught by the mantis assassins. It was important to control ones breathing when pursing a quarry, as more often than not it was a mistake when this close to a prey that often gave an assassin away. She moved to the side as Belik turned the door handle, knowing her movements will be quashed by the opening door. Belik walked straight passed the assassin whom had a small inclination to gut the halfling then and there for intruding in her room. If he had saw or found something that he was not supposed to, he would have told Estovion then and there about what the assassin was truly doing in Ascanor. She fought the impulse to stalk the halfling and kill him in a back room. Instead she turned and listened to the door once more, peeping though the key hole.

Estovion walked around the room frustrated, irritated and upset. His cool demeanor was now more like that of and overworked overscheduled mason, whom was worried about completing his assigned job. ’They know…. They know” Estovion muttered to himself. “I don’t know how they know but they know”. Estovion walked about the room flustered, babbling to himself. He had taken off his glasses more then once. He had pulled at his hair. The man was worried about something. Whatever it was he had done well to hide it from his porter. “He is good at deception” Scarlett though to herself, this was not the same man she had seen in the lodges hall. His whole body language had changed. While peeping through the keyhole Estovion moved over to a locked box and opened it. “I must destroy any evidence of my involvement, I cannot risk such information falling into the wrong hands” Estovion said to himself, sighing ever so slightly at the fact he might just get out of whatever trouble he was in unscathed. Scarlett smirked, “the walls of Ascanor do have eyes” she whispered under her breathe. As she did Estiovion picked up a book out of the box and tore several pages from it. Moments later while Estovion watched the paper catch on fire, he heard whistles from the guards and shouts of alarm from outside. He pulled back the curtain window and had a look outside. Down below in the courtyard a fight had broken out amongst the new guests and some men in dark cloaks. “Oohh no… they know” Estovion said to himself once more. “They know about the Whispering Way and my deal with Auren Vrood” he said under his breathe, too soft for Scarlett to hear. “I must see to this… game face… game face… you are just the warden of the lodge”, his paranoia was reaching a boiling point.

Estovion took a moment to recompose himself, looking hard in a nearby mirror. He practiced putting his plain emotionless face on once more before heading towards the door to deal with the problem outside. As he opened the door, Scarlett invisible put a folded piece of paper of the door latch, to prevent it from locking when Estovion shut the door. Estovion walked straight passed the assassin oblivious of her presence. Scarlett looked back and waited for Estovion to be out of sight before she opened the door and made her way into Estovion’s room. Scarlett jammed the paper into the door closing it behind her. The paper would ensure she did not lock herself in the room, and had an escape route besides leaping from the second story balcony.

Looking around the room Scarlett did not see the journal that Estovion had torn several pages out of. However she did see his chest had been locked which was opened before. Before she tried to open the lock box, Scarlett retrieved what she could from the fireplace. Scarlett salvaged several pieces of parchment that had only briefly burnt, before turning to start working on the chests lock. As she opened the lock Scarlett saw Estovions journal inside. “So what are you so worried about…. What have you got to hide” she thought to herself opening up the journal. As she read through the journal she took a peep outside. Carrow and Alika were surrounded by several guards. While Scarlett watched Estovion appeared, and began to speak to the Carrow. Knowing she would not have enough time to read the journal properly, Scarlett ripped the spine of the journal off, removing the cover. She went to a nearby shelf and did the same to another book of an approximate same size to the journal. She placed the ripped contents of the second book into the journal and put it back in the chest.

“Knock! Knock!” came at the door. “Warden, it seems there is a disturbance outside”. “Warden…” the porter said again opening the door. Scarlett could see the paper she had jammed into the lock would fall to the ground. If the porter was half the thief she thought he was he would discover her ruse in a few seconds. Instinctively she made a vline for the space behind the door. The door swung open without Belik turning the knob. Belik had learnt from experience that Estovion was a private man. This was strange to leave his room unlocked, especially when unattended. Belik looked around the room for some obvious clues that the room had been disturbed. He picked up a piece of paper strangely shaped on the floor at the foot of the door. Invisible, Scarlett monitored the halfling porters movements, studying them should she need to kill him. Looking at the shape of the paper Belik put it up against the doors lock. Sure enough it fitted perfectly into the latch, which prevented the door from locking or shutting properly.

Scarlet knew the moment the porter put the piece of paper into the latch her ruse was up. “This halfling is a decent theif” she thought. “It would only be a matter of time before he put two and two together, after Belik would question Estovion outside, that belik would learn who was not in there room an not where they should be. Estovion wuld learn quicker then Scarlett would want to about his journal disappearing. It would be problematic, and not give her the time she desired to put the journal back in his room after she had finished with it. Scarlett moved infront of the halfling. She began to move her hands in a motion to fascinate the halfling. It was a trick all Mantis assassins were taught. Waving there sabers in such a technical way could render a target completely helpless. The magic imbued into the motion of the swords was similar to that of a praying mantis in nature that was warding off enemies, enticing soon to be food or attracting potential mates. As she commanded the ring to dismiss her invisibility, before Belik could retreat, he was taken in by Scarletts fascination. With her mantis mask on, Scarlett moved into striking range of the porter. She waited until he was completely under the fascinations enchantment before she knocked him out unconscious. Scarlett then conjured another spell. This one was specially designed by her order. It removed a person’s short term memory, which made them forget anything hey had recently learnt.

Looking down at the porter, Scarlett could see she had hit that man harder then she had wished to. He would be unconscious for a few hours. So Scarlett picked up Belik’s body and moved it into the library. She put the halfling in a chair in a secluded part of the library, tilting his head as though he was sleeping. Scarlett could see Belik’s shallow breathes as his chest moved. In and out, in and out, how easy it would be to end Belik’s life. It would be like picking the wings of a fly. Without thinking to much on it, knowing where such thoughts would lead her, Scarlett decided to take another peak out the window. Estovion had calmed the guards down and had taken full control of the situation outside. Scarletts friends were now talking with Estoion and seeral of the guards, whm had lowered teir weapons. “Well I better make my presence felt”. Scarlett moved to her room and slipped off the adjoining balcony invisible.

Hearing the incoming guards and cries from above in the watch towers Alika and Carrow dispelled the wall and sent Bazoozu back o his home. Lancel had collapsed in the stable, clutching his chest, panting heavily as he struggled for breath. Ecthelion moved in and plugged up the hole in Lancels chests, where his lung ws. Lancel was lucky the halfling had such small fingers. ‘It’s hard to breathe’, Lancel wheezed trying to say something Ecthelion did not hear. ‘Lift my legs up” Lancel said once more. Ecthelion much like that of a vampire sucked the blood out of Lancels lung. Ecthelion grabbed a nearby piece of hay and used it like a straw to such out the blood not at the surface of the lung. First Ecthelion removed all the blood. Then he inflated the lung, stopping any more blood from entering the wound with his fingers jammed into the wound. Exthelion then used his lay on hands paladin magic to repair the tissue damage to the lung. Moments later Lancel gave a sigh of relief, as he could breathe freely once again.

“Thank you Ecthelion… you saved my life”. “Just repaying the favouring” Ecthelion replied turning to the nearby decapitated body on the ground. Ecthelion had helped Lancel back onto his feet and ushered him outside. “There still maybe more enemies outside. Steel yourself” Ecthelion added. “You do not need to tell me to be prepared, it’s just like hunting goblins” Lancel remarked with a smirk. It was obvious the close shave with Pharasma boneyard had done little to change the young paladin’s overconfident behavior.

Outside the stable Carrow tried his best to convince the guards of the lodge they meant no harm. The Watcher moved around from behind the stable. “What is with all the ruckus“., Vladimoor said, capatain of the Ascanor guard. The Watcher moved into the stable to retrieve the two journals he had seen the Anaphexia monks carrying. Carrow replied to Vladimoor “These men set themselves upon us. They were hiding in the stables. I thought this lodge was supposed to be well guarded. Isn’t it your responsibility to safeguard the welfare of those inside? If we had not been so heavily armed these men surely would have killed us. They moved like trained assassins”. Carrows words were clearly, taking the focus off the two nearby dead bodies and putting more emphasis on Vladimoors competence and that of his guardsmen. “They nearly killed my daughter“ Carrow added, wobbling one of his finger strings attached to lilth. Instinctively Lilith began to cry “Wwwwwhhaaahaaa”, Lilith cried.

“Spread out and make sure there is no more of them” Vladimir barked at his men. They moved off and began to search the nearby area. Moments later Estovion emerged. “Captain if you will see to your men”. “Yes warden” Vladimoor replied moving off. “I will personally undertake the investigation myself” Estovion added further. “Ok maggots I want this place searched from top to bottom” Vladimoor yelled at the top of his voice. Hearing the words Ulli moved up to Vladimoor from the back of the courtyard maze, and pulled him away from the others. “Come with me, I have something to show you” Ulli said.

Scarlett made her way outside and saw Estovion talking with Carrow, the Watcher, as Lancel and Ecthelion emerged from the stable. The both had wounds to the chest and would both live. “Pity” Scarlett thought to herself, it surely would have saved her some trouble later. Nevertheless, she was hired to fulfill a job and clean up after her master’s contractor. That meant making sure the adventurers knew the right people to target. The entity that spoke to Scarlett in her dream’s, left her with painful nightmares and constant headaches had left her little information to go on. The entity had told her three men needed to be killed to ensure certain secrets remained secret, to safeguard the actions of the gods. It was not her duty to judge, just enact those orders passed onto her. Looking at the two bodies Scarlett got a troubled look on her face. They were definitely assassins by the look of them. “Anaphexia” she said to herself once more. Then it clicked. Astrid, her master, had told Scarlett of an order of assassin that wandered Ustalav. They were experts at keeping secrets, which made what the Watcher previously said more diaphanous.

Astrid had told Scarlett that the Mantis biggest rivals in Ustalav were an order called the Anaphexia. They had changed the fate of nations many times in the past, by tipping the balance of the scales. A few men dead here and there, was all that was needed to change the fate of a nation. Scarlett had forgotten the words over time due to the number of people she had killed over the years. The Anaphexia had a similar doctrine to the Mantis Assassins. They were a secret order of assassins that sacrificed their own tongues to keep their secrets, as even in death magic could be used to learn of hidden truths. The little Astrid had told her about the Anaphexia, was that the order of assassins were scholar assassin, sworn prevent people from learning to much lore, hidden or ancient truths, until such a time as right. As was there doctrine, such lore in there order was believed to bring about unimaginable devastation upon an unprepared world, apocalypse, the end of the world and civilization, that sort of thing. They prevented secrets that alter an age, hey had brought ruin to nations that learnt sees only meant for the hells or heavens, and shatter the mind of individuals from ever revealing secrets that could change the world until the time was right.

The Anaphexia removed the heads of their victims to prevent there corpses from revealing any secrets. Astrid had told Scarlett a Morbid tale about how she believed they assassins had several locker storages of the heads of the deceased. The head of the victims the assassins had killed in the name of their doctrine. Heads that could alter nations or even the world with the information contained within the heads. It would be easy for someone to confuse them with Whispering Way agents, as they had many similarities. But what was there purpose in Ascanor. Had the adventurers stumbled upon something they should have? She did not know. Perhaps the voice that invaded her dreams and corrupted her mind had double booked eliminating those in pursuit of the Whispering Way. Or perhaps they had been sent to prevent the formation of whatever the Carrion Crown was. She was sure it was the later. She giggled herself without showing it. Her friends had most likely killed two assassins that were at Ascanor for the same purpose they were, tracking down and eliminating Whispering Way agents. What cruel irony.

Estovion broke Scarletts train of thought. “What do we know of these men” he asked. “Little” Carrow replied. “I believe them to be Whispering Way agents”. At that the statement Estovions paranoid mind went into overdrive. “They know. They have come. Should I run? Do they know what I have done?” Estovion had to fight every impulse in his body not to run away. But he managed to control it. His practice over the years at deceiving all those that frequented the lodge had paid out like a dragons hoard. He kept his calm. He kept his composure. Even despite his mind bouncing around all manner of conspiracies like a wild magic zone. But he would not let his thoughts betray him. He was so close to unlocking the full potential of the Vilkacis. The blood moon ritual was tomorrow. If he could keep up his ruse for another day he knew he would be fine. Vrood had promised to leave him be after the ritual. He would no longer be in Vroods pocket after then. He just had to keep his wits.

“Whispering Way… I can’t say I have ever heard much about them”. Scarlett laughed on the inside. He was a good liar. Estovion looked around the courtyard for any other ominous signs that these adventurers knew his secret. He could see a rope tied to the guest’s balcony. “They know. They have tricked you. They have been in your room”. The voice in his head kept at it like a splinter in a thumb. “Who are these Whispering Way” Estoion replied with a calm tone, searching the adventurers for clues. “An undead occult who gather various ingredients to create dark elixirs whose purpose is unknown to us. They raise the dead and bind them as slaves. An occult dedicated to the destruction of all living things” Ecthelion said, remembering what Anca had told him back in Harrowstone. “That is most disturbing”, Estovion replied. He pushed back his glasses onto his nose again, giving Carrow that blanked stare once more. “How did these men get into the lodge?” the Watcher asked. “I saw one of your servants lead them into the stables. It was Quiene”, the Watcher continued remembering meeting the woman back in the grand ballroom. “Well Quiene has gotten into trouble in the past for running her own side jobs for guests at the lodge. It has never been a problem in the past, because the lodge seeks to please all its guest’s requests. I am a busy man and cannot personally oversee every decision made here at the lodge. So I have entrusted many of my servants to undertake certain side tasks without need of informing me for patrons. They can be trusted, and inform me only when a decision above there station is required. It is my charge to act as warden to the lodge after all”.

Estovion tried to steer the conversation further away from the Whispering Way. “Belik had informed me Quiene had been running errands for lady Markiza today”. “Well lets go speak to Markiza then and see what she has to say” the Watcher added. “At this godly hour, surely such questions can wait until morning” Estoivon said with a deflated look on his face. “Two men are dead, it cannot wait until morning” Ecthelion urged with a pushy tone. “If we must…” Estovion did not look pleased with the adventurers. “Those whom wish to speak with Lady Markiza come with me, but after it in the morning I expect you all to tell me exactly what happened in the morning. A re-account of the events, as to timeline your actions, what happened and how two people managed to die on the grounds. You will be remanded to the lodge until then, any questions?” The adventurers had none, happy with how Estovion had handled things and shrugged. “I might have one” Scarlett pressed, waiting for the faintest inclination in which Estovion felt comfortable with the situation to dislodge his guard once more. “About the disappearances that have occurred at the lodge over the past few years, is it possible a person here at the lodge is or has been a Whispering Way agent, helping cover up the disappearances. It is strange and not perhaps mere circumstances that the same day we arrive, we are attacked by occultists. It’s almost as if somebody does not want us here at Ascanor. The question therefore is whom and why? What is it hat someone here at he lodge has to hide?” Scarlett measured Estovion once more.

“Mere speculation, I trust all those whom work for me and will vouch for each servant’s integrity. But as for the disappearances… stories used by travelling bards to add infamy, prestige and notoriety to the establishments reputation. All patrons under my watch over the past two years have enjoyed a safe, secure and completely private stay, and left accordingly. The lodge is open to all patrons twenty four hours, which means many come and go as it pleases them. It is not my job to learn of what business befalls underneath Ascanors roof. Rather, it is my job to make sure it can do so safely. That sad there is no way we would accept occultist of any kind. You yourself were witness to our security measures upon entering, which are quite strict. As if it was not for your letter from Embreth Daramid, you surely would have not been allowed to stay here. The lodge only accepts those of proper position and the wealthy whom an afford it”. Estovions relaxed a little.

Scarlett retorted, “So it is just a coincidence then? I fear your lodge warden holds many secrets. Secrets that if the guests knew about this is the last place they would like to stay”. Estovion gave off a micro sneer that Scarlett caught. “As I have said, you are free to come and go as you please. But if any more trouble occurs from you lo during your stay, I am afraid the lodge will have to ask you not so politely to leave. The hour is late and I grow weary of these incessant questions. The lodge may operate twenty four hours a day, but its warden cannot, I am no elf. Any further questions of me will be answered with due haste tomorrow morning. I am willing to take you to Markizas if that is your wish, but I am afraid I ust call it a night after you have spoken with her. I have important duties which need o be undertaken tomorrow, including setting up for the dire gamblers. My second, Vladimoor is more than capable man. He is more than capable of overseeing a full investigation into the two men ant the tables and what I was they were doing here at Ascanor. I WOULD ask you tha yu leav such an investigation to the proper authority, and instead focus on enjoying your stay here at Ascanor lodge”

“Well best not to dilly-dally, let us speak to Markiza” Carrow added. “Agreed”, Alika remarked further. Estovion turned and made his way inside. He was joined by Carrow, the Watcher, Lilith and Alik. Scarlett thought it best not to go, especially the moans and groans she had heard coming from Markiza’s room. “They might be in for a rude surprise. One can only hope they storm the fort” she giggled to herself. “Well I best tell someone what I have found out about Estovion. The quicker I can get Ecthelion away from the lodge, the quicker he can meet an unfortunate end in the forest, as he is my mark. Too many eyes here at the lodge… Hmmm…” Scarlett pondered. Then Scarlett saw young Lancel acting more like an inquisitor then paladin, questioning ever guard with suspicion as he moved about the courtyard. “Well, he is most likely the one to get to Ecthelion. He is also brash and persistent, s Lancel it is”. Scarlett shifted over to Lancel whom was questioning another guard, pulling Lancel aside to show him what she had found in Estovions office.

Ecthelion wanted to do a perimeter sweep of Ascanor to make sure there were no other surprises tonight. The Halfling preferred to do it alone, nt trusting his friends entirely or he guards at the lodge. Ulli on the other hand had spoken to Vladimoor about the dead body he had found of a guard hidden amongst the bushes at the rear of the lodge. Ulli had told Vladimoor how a black cloaked figure scaled the back fence and ran away into the forest. “Here you can see an obvious blood trail”, Ulli said as he used his tracking skill to show a blood trail that headed north of where his werewolf friends had left. “I will have to thank Yeselda again” the ranger thought again to himself again for making his story so easy to believe. Vladimoor inspected the body and trail. He measured the marks of the wounds with his hands.

“The wounds suggest arrows or rapiers punctures, but the killing blow was the ut across the neck by a dagger”. Ulii was quite surprised by Vladimoor’s knowledge of body trauma. Following the bloodtrail over the walls about thirty feet into the forest, guided only by a torch, Vladimoor replied, “That’s good to know, the werewolves will do our job for us. You see the werewolf footprints quite fresh here and here. Not less than an hour old. Nothing survives the perimeter fence on nights like this when the werewolves travel so close to the lodge, especially since all the werewolves have been riled up by the death of their Queen Kvalca Sain Supposedly killed by a wizard known as Auren Vrood”. The name echoed through Ulli’s head, the second time he name had been dropped tonight. Auren Vrood was definitely linked to Yeseldas mother’s death. Ulli had heard it from Yeseldas own mouth, and now by the heads guardsman here at the lodge. Not only that, but the black banner had also spoke of Auren Vrood back at the Edgewood inn. Auren Vrood was definitely causing trouble in his woods, and Ulli did not like it. The only other powerful wizard he had known of in the woods was Mathus, second to Kavlca of the Silverhide tribe. But now an outsider had single handedly brought down one of the finest rulers to rule the woods in almost a thousand years. A kind and generous ruler, who sort only to protect the forests inhabitants and ward off outsider from encroaching on the domain of the werewolves.

Kvalca was the werewolf ruler whom only wanted to protect the werewolf lands and ancestral traditions. Kvalca was more like druid then shapeshifter. Her philosophies had touched many of the tribes and slowly she had been reuniting them under one banner. Philosophies that had challenged and over time gradually changed the attitude of the Shudderwood werewolf tribes beastial and ferocious tendencies. Gradually the reputation of the werewolves of the woods had shifted from bloodthirsty savages whom regularly slaughter all whom trespassed in the Shudderwoods, to people whom can be reasoned with if travellers give them and there domain the respect they deserve. Kvalca was also a close friend of Petros Lorrimor, attending his funereal in Ravensgro alongside Echelion. Not that the halfling really got to know much about her then. Regardless to say she had spared Ullis life, and Ulli knew his lover Yeselda had been gathering up the courage to tell Kvalca about the truth between Ulli and Yeselda. But now things had change. Ulli knew it was only a matter of time before either Mathus or those loyal to the Sain lineage, asked Yeselda to lead he Silverhides.

Ulli knew Mathus would not simply hand over the tribe to Yeselda. For sure there would be a fight to the death. Ulli would try everything in his power to prevent any harm coming to his beloved. Even if it went against Yeseldas wishes. Ulli would kill for Yeselda, with or without her consent if it spared her from such acts. The other tribes would surely put their own candidates forward to become rulers of the woods. It would be a gladiatorial pit of carnage, one which he knew Yeselda would most likely not survive. Especially if Vollensag fought for the title of guardian and ruler of he woods. Yeselda was simply to kind, and could not kill without reason, cause or offering clemency. A weakess the other werewolves would exploit. Ulli knew deep down Yeselda was a compassionate and merciful person. Yeselda was a woman whom could not distance herself from her emotions. Someone whom put on a facade of cruelty, who lung to her humanity and was sympathetic to all denizens of the forest. Worst yet, Ulli knew that Yeselda had come own with some sort of sickness, he could sense it in her. He was not sure if it was how Yeselda was coping with the death of her mother. Or whether the morning sickness Yeselda spoke of in his room in Ascanor lodge was attributed to something else. The ranger had cured many fevers over the years, but he did not know anything about Yeseldas current ailment.

Ulli shook off where his thoughts lead him, returning his attention back to Vladimoor and what it was he was saying. Mainly to ensure his tracking did no lead after the two pups he freed, or Yeselda who had left the lodge earlier. “Any tracking can be handled by Delgros in the morning, it is too dangerous to go after him tonight. Although all I suspect we will find is a few bones and the remains of an eaten carcass”, Vladimmor said as he paced about inspecting telltale signs of the trail. “Agreed… If the werewolves are nearby I do not want to gallivanting the woods into an ambush, best to reinforce and refortify Ascanor to ensure something like this does not happen again. We should be like the wolves, and protect our den”. Ulli tossed a few sunrods about the area so the guards on the walls could momentarily see more ameliorate. “Get your men to skim regularly with these” Ulli added further. As Ulli handed over a bag of sun roads to Vladimoor, he said “Best to be safe than sorry”. “A good idea” Vladimoor replied. The two men returned back to the lodge through the front gate. Vladimoor went about instructing the guards, issuing them with new orders.

As Ulli watchd vladimoor attend to his duties, Ulli was just happy Vladimoor did not press the issue about the dead guardsman. Ulli was tired, and going to call it a night to get some much needed shut eye. Losing his memory to a poisonous trap, having it restored in the same night, meeting Vollensag and Yharloc, his time with Yeselda in his room and freeing the cubs all in one night was just too much for even his endurance. ”Time to call it a night” the ranger thought to himself. Ulli just hoped his fellow adventurers had the same idea. It had been too long a day to keep going and poking their noses around any further. With that in mind he headed to his room to sleep.

Meanwhile Scarlett had relocated to Lancel in the courtyard. “I have something to show you” the Mantis assassin said with a smirk. “This had better be important” the young knight replied. “I am sure you will no be disappointed, but what I have to show you is for your eyes only Lancel. So if you will join me in the maze we can get started”. Scarlett entered the maze with Lancel following. Along the way Lancel asked “no tricks. You better have a good reason for disappearing when the fight broke out between the men in he stables. I do not think everyone is pleased with how you disappear whenever a fight ensues”. Lancel stopped walking, waiting for Scarlett to turn and face him with an answer. “Is it not your duty to protect innocent people like myself. I do not have he stomach for stand up fighting. Yet you and Ecthelion bring it upon the rest of us every chance you get. Better to strike quickly and efficiently from the shadows, then present oneself for battle. The way you paladins choose to fight it’s no wonder it took years for the shining crusade to defeat the Whispering Tyrant. It’s a wonder our orders still thrive today. Announcing yourself to the entire world”, Scarlett tilted her head to the side and rested her index finger against her temple and thumb on her chin.

“Iomedae teaches us never to refuse a challenge from an equal, to give honour to worthy enemies, and contempt to the rest. That one should suffer death before dishonour”. Lancel boasted his doctrine like a sermon. “But what about stealing, like that which happened a Edgewood”, Scarlett wanted to play with the paladin a little more. “I…I…I will be temperate in my actions and moderate in my behaviour to be vigilant against those whom would oppose her will”. The paladin went a little red like a ruby. Scarlett was unsure whether it was out of embarrassment or shear anger at her words. But she did enjoy watching the paladin squirm under her words. “Let it go”, a voice echoed in the back of her mind, sounding distinctively like that of Astrid her master. “Well let me show you what I found in the library” Scarlett thought it best not to tell Lancel the full details of how she procured Estovions journal from his living quarters. The paladin might get the wrong idea.

Scarlett showed Lancel the burnt journal entries and the torn out passages of Estovions journal itself. After reading through the journal entries (see other post) Lancel felt it would be a good idea to question Ivanja, as to what her involvement was with Auren Vrood and how she was connected with the obvious blackmail of Estovion. Lancel looked up from the journal, “So how do you think Ivanja is connected to the Whispering Way”. “Not sure, she is a whore you know, and a Varisian one at that. Who knows whom she lets waddle though her swamp” Scarlett replied. Lancel took a moment to consider what he had read and Scarletts words. “We need a plan, and Ivanja may have information regarding the Whispering Way we need, so the sooner we speak to her the better”. Nearby Ecthelion managed to overhear the last portion of Lancels statement. The Halfling had searched the entire courtyard and was checking out the maze when he overhead Scarlett and Lancel sharing a private conversation.

“Ivanja was connected somehow to the Whispering Way?” Ecthelion thought to himself. “Why would Lancel keep that from me?” he contemplated further. Ecthelion thought for a moment. The realization then dawned upon him, “Scarlett”. The rogue must have a good reason for not telling the halfling. Ecthelion did not trust her as much as she did not trust him. Occasionally Ecthelion had caught glimpses of her studying him out of the corner of his eye. He felt as though she had watched his routines and daily preparations ever since she had joined his party back at Lepidstadt. Her glare was leering. Something about including Scarlett on his quest to bring down Petros Lorrimors killer went against his better judgment. His instincts spoke otherwise about the woman. Scarlett was an enigma. But currently there pathways were aligned. Maybe the rogue had her own reasons. But the fact she would not bring such vital information directly to him was troubling. Even worse was the fact it involved entrusting such important information to young Lancel, a paladin still in training. It was for these reasons Ecthelion did not trust the woman.

Every time a fight took place she disappeared. Tonight had been no different. If she picked the lock of the stables Ecthelion would not have had to wake up the entire lodge to get through the door. Ecthelion knew that the fight and rumors that circulated as to its purpose and origin, would make it harder to expose whoever was the real traitor at the lodge. For it was an obvious fact that any traitors to the lodge would surely take necessary steps to conceal any incriminating evidence and hide any involvement they may have had with Auren Vrood. Ecthelion decided to keep a close eye on Lancel and Scarlett from now on.

Reading through Estoions journal Lancel was armed with this new evidence as to the Harrowers potential involvement with Auren vrood. With little thought the paladin stormed over to Ivanjas watchtower. Scarlett followe, wishing the paladin wuld rehink such a direct approach. Two of Ivanja’s six quidarian guards stood on watch. They grabbed at the swords on there waists as something approach Ivanjas door in the dark. Something heavy, full of metal. “Can I help you” one said as Lancels figured appeared in the darkness, the guards tesion easing slightly. “I need to speak to lady Ivanja” Lancel replied. “If you have the right coin you may enter my mistresses tent, otherwise I am afrid I would ask that you wait to speak with my mistress at a more appropriate time”. “Coin’ Lancel said shocked. Scarlett tugged Lancel on the shoulder. “Lancel, she is a courtesan, a whore. They will not let you in without paying”, Scarlett had thought the paladin much more worldly then he had otherwise shown. Lancel in her mind was naïve. A suborn mule would have had more brains. Perhaps Scarlett had given him too much credit in the past.

Angry about having to pay for an audience for a whore, Lancel was furious. “a whore shuld pay me for my time”, Lancel remarked. The younf paladin knew two people had already been killed tonight by his troop. Causing more trouble by having a fight with the quidarian guards would only put his friends in a worse position then they currently were. He did not want to jeopardize there already shaky relationship with the lodes warden Estovion. Instead Lancel asked Scarlett to accompany back to guest room to talk more about what she had found. Before Lancel left he turned to the Quidarian guardsman, “Tell Ivanja Lancel Dane wishes to speak with her, but I am not paying to enter her chambers. Tell her to seek me out in the morning at breakfast”. The guard replied “What business should I tell my mistress you wish o talk about”. “She is a Harrower, tell her it is about her future” Scarlet replied with a smirk. Lancel and Scarlett left Ivanjas entrance, headed for his lodgings. The whole time, Lancel snorted and grunted about having to pay a whore for her time. Scarlett simply laughed at the paladin’s reaction. From a distance, Ecthelion watched his compatriot’s reactions. “What do they have on Ivanja” the halfling thought. “Maybe Silivio would fill me in with more details about the harrower”. Echelion turned making his way to Silivio’s room.

Pulling Markiza from her room at this time of the night made Estovion cross. But Estovion knew it would be better to freshen the air, as to win over the new patrons of the lodge. Essentially to protect himself by directing the adventurer’s investigation down the path he solemnly chose. What made Estovions paranoia worse was his porter Belik was nowhere to be found. Estovion knew of Markiza’s nights, romancing with Ostovarch her huntsmaster and loyal bodyguard. He had planned to use the information in the future to benefit the lodge and himself. ButEstovion did not like the fact he had to approach Markiza himself, with allegations shw was harboring occultists at the lodge. Estovion did not want to jeopardize his friendship with Markiza. She was simply too a wealthy woman. Markiza had spent more on the lodge then any other nobleman for leagues. Estovion breathed a sigh of relief when he saw the glow of candles from underneath the door. “At least she was awake” Estovion thought to himself. Estovion fought the urge to flee again. His mind still played tricks on him. “They know. They are going to find out what you have done. All of them poor souls you have fed to the vilkacis. They know about your deal with Auren Vrood. It will be a pity to see the power nearly within your grasp fade away into the clutches of such adventurers. You will never be able to possess the full power of the vilkacis while they are alive. All them years of research wasted. Once they tell the guards you will be hunted like a rabid werewolf”.

Estovion pushed the thoughts aside again, concentrating on his composure. Estovion took a large breath before he knocked on the door, waiting for Markiza to emerge. After a while when Markiza did not emerge he knocked again. “Lady Markiza I am sorry to trouble you at this ungodly hour. But as you are no doubt aware of, an incident has occurred here at the lodge tonight. If you will accompany me to the grand ballroom I am sure we can have the sorted out in a matter of moments”. Estovion spoke against the door, positive somebody on the other side was listening. Estovion heard a giggle from a man before large thunderous like footsteps approached the door from within the room.

Markiza open the door, dressed with naught but a nightgown. Her hair was in a mess. A cantankerous and irritable glare embellished her face. “You had better have a good reason for this intrusion Warden”, if looks could kill, Estovion would have been disintegrated then and there. Markiza added further, “Pulling a lady from her repose at such an absurd hour. What would the other guests think of me, let alone you Estovion”. Markiza shot a defiant stare at Estovion. “Please, I beg your pardon madam, but as I said two men have died tonight within the lodges walls. I plead with you that you indulge myself and those accompanied with me to answer a few questions to tidy up any misrepresentations about mylady”. Estovion never looked Markiza in the eye, let alone the face. He constantly looked down towards the ground when addressed her. Estovion knew Markiza enjoyed the power trip of having subservient men, His groveling would ensure Markiza played along with the charade. “It had better not take too long… a woman needs her rest”. Markiza grabbed a large fur coat and wrapped it around her before leaving her chambers, heading for the grand ball room.

Alika decided she was too tired to continue questioning guests. The ritual she had undertaken on Ulli had drained much of her internal fortitude. She fought her eyes as they drooped, weighing heavy. Fatigue had set in. Her mind and body approached exhaustion. Although she wished to continue, so weary was her body she nearly had to crawl back to her room. Her joints ached. Her head throbbed. Her entire being was sore in some way or another. It felt like climbing a mountain, but eventually her room loomed in sight. She unrolled her meditation mat and began a much needed mediation to regain her strength. “Erastil, watch over my friends” were Alikas last thoughts before she shut down her body, entering her meditative trance

Meanwhile as Markiza followed Estovion to the grand ballroom, Doctor Carrow created a mind link with the Watcher. “Don’t resist” Carrow whispered into the Watchers ear as he touched gim on the shoulder, merging their minds as one. The mind link would allow Carrow and the Watcher to communicate telepathically with each other, allowing the pair the option to communicate their own private messages. Carrow also used his psionic powers to manifest the ability to read thoughts. A power he intended to use on Lady Markiza to ensure she was not hiding anything and speaking the truth about her involvement with the two deceased men. “You take the lead” Carrow said to the Watcher telepathically. “I’ll follow”.

After Estovion got the fire roaring, using pyrotechnics to incite the flames, Markiza sat down in the most lavished chair in the room. Estovion ever the gentleman pulled out the chair for Markiza. “Are you warm enough mylady” Estovion uttered. His words like that of a mortal speaking to a divine presence. “Cozy enough for the hour” Markiza declared. She sipped from a large brass goblet, inlaid with several gems. She exuded body language more like that of a king with his court, than that of an accused standing trial. Estovion was disparaged underneath his breath. “Perhaps you will be my vessel to deal with the interlopers”. Carrow read Estovions mind, but thought little sentiment as to his current convictions and thoughts of harming the fat, obnoxious, churlish and ignorant woman. He himself contemplated such notions himself.

After Markiza settled in, the Watcher started off his line of questioning. The Watcher began by focusing on Markizas relationship with the two men his friends had just disposed of outside the stables. “Lady Markiza, you often come to this lodge and conduct personal business here, we wish to know what your relationship with the Whispering Way is”. He tossed one of the books with strange codes on it onto the table Markiza was sitting at. “What does the encrypted code mean, why did you bring the two dark cloak men to the lodge”, he tried to be direct so Carrow could ameliorate Markiza’s thoughts. “Whoever this Whispering Way is, this is the first time I have heard of them. I do not appreciate being dragged out of my room and questioned like a criminal. I thought we had an understanding Estovion. You advocate privacy and security, but it seems you deliver little on both. An obvious failure as a man, just like my husband”.

Estovion groveled further, than replied “Due to the severity of the actions and allegations that appropriated here tonight, which may have directly resulted in the death of three men, ne of which was a lodge guardsman, it is best that any allegations be dealt with as soon as possible to allow the lodge and its guests business to return to normal”. The thoughts crept back into Estovions mind. Every time he heard that name from the adventures, the Whispering Way, something burrowed deeper into his consciousness. His mind was driving him crazy with paranoia.

“The Whispering Way… The Whispering Way… The Whispering Way“. Estovions paranoia was driving him mad, reaching a boiling point. “It’s is only a matter of time before they connect the dots. It is them or you. Either they die or you do. Do you want to go back working for Vrood? Would you rather die? Or do you want ultimate power? Do not give up what is yours. Not when you are so close. The Vilkacis power should be yours and only yours. Kll the intelopers, call the Vilkacis and kill them all”. The dangerous, paranoid, delusional thoughts continued to echo through Estovions mind. The slightest smirk was hinted on his face as Estovion finally decided he would use the Vilkacis to kill these meddlers tonight. “I will have to be clever when dealing with so many.. Especially since the spirit is so difficult to control. Corvin shall be its vessel” he thought to himself. Estovion had disliked he rude bard for some time. He would have to remove these outsiders from destroying his plans. It was only a day away before Estovion could return to the Highthrone and empower the Vilkacis during the blood moon. Then the creature would be truly immortal. Estovion knew that the outsiders had learnt to much already, only being at the lodge for a few hours. He could not risk them living throughout the night. Surely they would learn the truth. Learn a secret he had killed for in the past. Learn the secret of Ascanor that was the Vilkacis.

As Carrow concentrated on Estovions mind, Carrow struggled to read his thoughts. Estovions thoughts were fragmented. Carrow could catch glimpses here and there, but nothing solid enough that forced itself to the surface. The longer Carrow concentrated, the cloudier Estovions mind was to him. Carrow sifted through what he could. Several words consistently came up “Vilkacis, Whispering Way, meddlers and a deft fear of losing position and prestige at the lodge”

Esotvion kept his performance solid as he could. Especially when Estovion noticed Carrow stare focusing intently on him. “I ask that you keep your questions brief, as the hour is late and I do not wish you to harass my guest tonight without proper provocation. This is a sanctuary and escapism after all, it is important the mood of the lodge remain luxurious. So please treat lady Markiza appropriately as a woman of her station deserves. I do no have the authority to hold guests without explanation”. Estovion kept a keen eye on Carrow to see how the investigator would react.

“Agreeable” the watcher replied. “Lady Markiza we do not wish to hold you any longer hen necessary. I simply must enquire into your relationship with the men in the stables. As we believe the men killed there were cultists whom sught halm from the lodges residents. We believe the men to be a group of undead worshippers whom have stirred trouble no only here in Ascanor, but the Shudderwoods in general”.

Markiza looked away in disgust. “Me associating with cultists…. You have got to be mad. Who did you say you were again? I’d have my servants flogged and beaten for such words”. Markiza quickly became defensive with the enquiry. As Carrow continued to sift through her surface thoughts, a constant thought kept popping into her mind. That of returning to her lover back in her bedroom, a lover who was not her husband. Her husband would surely kill her if he found out she was bedding another man. Carrow decided to push her further. “So why are the two men here at Ascanor. The stable hand said she was paid a sum of gold by your hand to ensure they had lodgings for the night”. Markiza pulled the hair out of her eyes. “So you would take the word of a stable hand over mine”, Markiza said in defiance. “I am only advocating that these men were indeed here at the lodge, heavily armed and possessed poisons and implements designed to kill. Care to explain”

With a flabbergasted look Markiza unloaded on her interrogators. “How dare you. How dare you. I have spent over the last ten years as a guest of the lodge without incident. If the integrity of anyone is at stake, it is that of the firebrands and rabble-rousers that have embarked upon upsetting the lodges guests and patrons. But if you truly wish to know what those men were and what they were doing here, they were debt collectors working for my husband. Debt collector whom had taken a vow of secrecy, by sacrificing their own tongues and writing down there contracts in undecipherable code, as to protect the interests of my husband’s clients. They were hunting down a man whom had stolen from several of the tombs under my husband’s custodianship. One tomb of which contained a powerful and dangerous artifact. An artifact said to have the ability to create vampires. The history of the artifact in questions suggests that supplicants simply have to touch the artifact, to undergo an undead transition into vampirism. The two Pharasman’s in the stables were contracted to oversee the artifacts return by any means necessary. Unfortunately it seems there travel was in vain, slaughter by miscreants like you”. Markiza was obviously not happy.

“So what do you know of the thief” the Watcher asked. “It is none of your business. Stay out of my affairs’. With that Markiza tossed the remaining wine in her goblet over the Watchers face, snatched her deceased associates journal off the table, before stopping momentarily o question “Is there anything else?” Her tone quite sarcastic, as she floundered her night gown and coat about. ”I think we are finished here” Estovion exclaimed as he pushed his glasses back onto his long nose. Before Carrow or the Watcher could react, Markiza stormed back to her room. She made enough noise to surely wake up the other patrons in her section of the lodge. “Well I hope you got the answers you wanted, I ask you to leave any follow up questions regarding the investigation to the morning. If you must speak to me, I will be in my room. I just hope you enjoy the rest of your stay at Ascanor, without incident”. Estovion emphasized the last two words. Estovion then moved off towards the stairs, yawning along the way. He wiped his face with his palms several times, before making one finally wipe with his the inside of his wrist. After which Estovion made his way

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Hide and move silently

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Alinka and Ullis return

Walking back to the Lodge says to Uline:
“Hoot, go ahead a scout, I would have no more unwanted visitors tonight” as Alinka motions with a flick of a pointed finger. The aged owl takes several jumps to gain flight and disappears into the night sky. “
Listen for his call and he will find us safely home as his eyes are better then ours at night,” she mentions as the pair watch the owl take to the tree tops.
“I have given up much for you to be restored, but I gladly pay it again for the good of all the people of this area. Just as I feel that you have a part to play, and my god has blessed you by sending one on his heralds. Know that you are truly blessed to even be in the presence of such a creature. However, I must address the community that you keep company with. I know of the dangers that lurk in the shadows of these woods as I have read my uncle’s journal which makes reference to eyes that are always watching, but never acting,” as she nervously looks around at the tress.
“Although Erastil is a hunter of monsters for the good of the community, he does not wantonly approach on territories of others by stirring up the forest. My clan has always lived in peace with creatures of the forest, and under the first arrow I learnt how to foster them for my own spies and voices,” as Alika gestures to the trees.
“We hunt for game, but never take too much that upsets the natural balance or that would starve the people. However, I fear what is lurking in these woods are far beyond the creatures that my uncle mentioned in his journal, and to see that beast you conversed with snap the neck of that person as easily as a one breaks a newly seeded fig tree, is a true nightmare. Plus, his words are more venomous than Asmodus devils are".
Looking down at her bow she says “I trust in my aim as old one eye (Erastil) sees all and his blessing allow me to eye an orc at 150 paces. I have always been most comfortable in the woodlands, but why do I get such a sense of foreboding here?”
“My father always wanted me to settle down and take a husband, the same as the wants of the first arrow of my clan. My freedom from those shackles and wanting to find out what happened to my uncle also put me in opposition even to my faith.”
Alika moves her head around in alarm and says “Yet walking in these woods I feel that I should have listened to their wisdom. Ulini, honestly answer me this – what is your connection to these beasts as you known more about them then just the mere hunting of them, and what is that you hope to achieve by colluding with them?”
Alika turns and blocks his path and stare intently into his eyes with palms open
“You can trust me to keep your secrets!” waiting a response.
You hear several more howls off to the far south east. It appears Vollensag has made another kill. By far he had been the largest wolf you had ever laid your eyes upon. As you watched him transform back into a wolf he was the equivalent size of a large horse. The sight of the creatures wicked stiched grim still trickles through your mind. The werewolf you saw was a true hunter indeed.

Ulli gives Alika a crooked smile.
‘Too many people,’ he begins, glancing over towards Ascanor Lodge, ‘fear Shudderwood. They fear it because of beasts, monsters, stories whispered at campfire or bellowed in tavern. They are right to fear it. But wrong in way they fear it. Yes, there beasts here, and yes there monsters, you know this too. But there werewolves, also.’
He sighs, a sadness stirring in him.
“They shun werewolves. Hate them. Hunt them, kill them. They wrong about werewolves. In every way, they wrong.’ He shakes his head, looking up to the night sky.
‘You know how long I have been here, Alika? Twenty-three years. Came here when not even a man, fourteen summer and thirteen winter. Why? My family. My parents, they fat. Drunk, over-indulge. Excessive, loud. All their friends were too. I tolerated this. I did not accept. When I saw beyond my family, I saw fat, greasy swines in silks everywhere. Everyone in for selves, no community, no respect. This made me sad. Made me yearn to be away. Friend of my father, he come to us, winemaker from Leopards-stat. He tell me of wild wolves, living in packs and alone, supporting and surviving. I decided this for me.’
Ulli motions his arm toward the path for them to continue.
‘I left home. Did not say goodbye. Found my way here. I was Arkady then. Arkady, who almost got eaten by wolves. I was rescued by man. By Ulli Gengari, warden of wood. He teach me things. He teach me ways of Shudderwood. He teach me that werewolves not beasts, not men, but more. Wolves are packs, community. Moreso than humans. They lived together, hunt together. Take what they need, leave nobody behind.’ he smiles to himself, a warmth behind his eyes.
The warmth fades away slightly and his smile follows it.
‘But, in being werewolves comes human cruelty with beasts ferocity.’
Cob lycan ak10

“When a werewolf turns, it is beautiful and terrible. They become animal. Not beast, not monster. An animal. They smell the soil, they hear the trees. They feel the shadows stroking their backs. Human heart, animal body. They become fearless. Strong. Perhaps too strong. Some, mostly eh…” he holds out his arm and motions a bite with his other hand,
“Mostly bitten. They live in fear of themselves and so become fear themselves. Thick-heads like Vollensag, look at these werewolves, bitten, look down at them. They gave into animal. They thick, they proud, they live naturally and for that I hold no blame.” Ulli looks down at the body of the Silverhide on the ground.
“The Silverhides, they too human. Too open. One thing I learned in my many years is wild will rip out throat if youre open.”
“We wardens,” Ulli said, his shoulders rising as he stood to full height,
“Have always lived wild. We choose not to be werewolves because we have all turned backs on humanity. Or elfanity. Or dwarfanity.” He chuckled at his own joke.
“To be a werewolf is to be half-human. A half too much. Ulli before me, he tell me he was soldier. Got tired of killing, living among death. He came here to die among life. And he died amongst life. I came here to turn back on humanity. And yet…” He sighed deeply and scratched the back of his head.
“A human, well, half-human, I have found.” He lowers his arm and reaches into his pocket and pulls out a small wooden token. It is rounded and carved into the shape of two knotted paws holding one another with a curled leaf in the hollow in the middle.
“My Yselda. She’s a Silverhide, daughter of Kvaka Sain. A ranger too. She was tracking me. Thought, thought she was tracking me,” he corrected himself with a mischeivous smile,
“But I was steps ahead and behind. I lured her into a trap. Let her squirm for a few hours. Cut her loose and then ran for my fucking life! She made my heart beat so hard…” A warmth washes over his dirty face as he loses himself in the memory.
“Back and forth we go. She damn-near shoots me, I trap her again. She makes me run for life, I lure her to river, swing from tree, kick her in. She loved that, ha!” He slapped his side as he laughed, his teeth, suprisingly white, glistened in the twilight.
“One day, I get in bad spot. Forest-fire tribe, bastards, they catch me out. Light a fire around me, one of them pounces in to fight me, kill me. Didn’t count on Silverslash here,
“Ulli pats the hilt of the longsword that hangs at his hip,
“I put up a great fight, slash the bastard right across gut,” Ulli runs his grubby thumb across his belly and then up his mouth and across his nose,
“Give him a kiss with Silverslash, right across snout!” “But that,” he paused, gritting his teeth.
“That make him angry. He kick me in ribs. Was powerful, powerful kick. I taste blood. I felt doomed. Then, from nowhere, this beautiful grey werewolf, tackles him to ground and beats shit through him! Tears out throat,” Ulli spits a cloud of spit into the forest behind him,
“And roars at tribe! She then scoops me up and onto shoulder and says sweetest thing i ever heard at time.
She say,” Ulli paused with dramatic poise, looking to Alika as if he was about to hit her with a deep revelation.

Huntress

“Nobody kills you, Ulli, nobody but me!” He clapped his hands together softly, a schoolboys smile across his face.

“I pass out. She ran me back to Silverhide land. Kept me safe. Looked after me for days while I slept. In and out of sleep i go, always she there, her beautiful face, watching me. I come good, but still tender. We spend days together as I get better. We talk, we make each other laugh, we smile. She have scar from corner of lip to cheek. I love that bloody scar. But only in private. Never near other wolves.” Ulli’s smile faded softly.
“Silverhides, whilst they like me as friend, they don’t like me as her lover. Kvaka, she welcome me. But she say to Yselda
‘You cannot love Ulli. He walks wilds, yes, but not as wild.’ She say.
“His smile had turned morose. "So, we love each other in private. Away from Silverhides. Away from Shudderwood.
“He looks out into the darkness of the forest. “And soon,”
He said, with a painful sigh,
“Soon there might be no Silverhides…” He drifted off, his voice becoming cold.
“No Shudderwood,” he said, his voice soft enough to be a winds whisper.
“And no Yselda.”
With a sadden look in her eye Alika speaks softly
“Thank you for sharing this with me Ulli, it would appear that you finally found the woods for your heart and somewhere you belong”, as she gestures to the woods.
“Too much of the goods things of this world are not allowed, from forbidden love, to daughters chastised into roles they do not want until everything that you think is good is taken away from you. This place is your home Ulli and I will put an arrow in the eye of any person that feels that it should be taken away from you or its inhabitants, or any that forbid you from your hearts desire, your Yeslda. This is because I to look for somewhere to belong. I thought I had it once, and it was ripped from me due to family duties and wanton resentment for a new found purpose.” she speaks softly as she looks at the lights around the wooden palisade.
“My uncle taught me that when ever in the territory of others always respect the ways of the local way finders. Ulli, you are such a person that can read this place as easily as I welcome the dawn every day for Erastil. One of the proverbs of Erastil is that he does not suffer fools. If the others do not confer to your lead while in these woods, they may find out how unforgiving the shadows of this place are. So with the 2nd arrows blessing I vow that I will reunite you with this place once more. So what do we do next?”

A chilly air begins to set in.
Through the trees you see the winking glint of magically coloured torches that are placed around the lodges walls. As you draw closer you hear a still calmness. It sounds as though most of the lodge may have went to bed. However the silent night id quickly bronken by claps as you distinctly hear Dr Carrows voice through the nights air. His vouce changes and all you hear is him say is
“Leave this place now”.
“Ulli, did you hear that voice on the wind. What sorcery is this and what danger lurks within,”
says Alika in response to the voice, immediately notching an arrow, her eyes searching the battlements for hostiles.
“Words on the wind, do jot loet it scare you” Ulli says with a tired gruff tone.
“Leave now or suffer the curse of Ascanor”,
Carrows voice bellows once more. You here a hiss from a cat nearby and more howls from wolves to your rear. Something small and black disappesrs through the fence near the gate.
Hounds inside the lodges walls begin to bark as you approach the gate. As you draw closertwo tourches are struck in the nearby towers.
“I’ll be down in a moment to let you in” .
You hear heavy boots trot down steps an the gate swings open. One of Ascanors guards greets you, red eyed from lack of sleep he spits on the ground before he says
“Your friends are in the grand ballroom to the rear of the bottom floor”. He coughs and clears his throst,
“Dam sniffles have got the better of me….. I surprised you found us this late at night. Woods are safe at night. I’ll have to ask you to drink one of these before you go in. He offers you a empty glass and begins to fill it from a thermoss flask on his belt. You don’t have to worry about this [lookimg at the kixture he poor] making you endup like did before Ulli. Nothing added to it. Just a precaution to make sure you not infected”.
He holds out a glass in one hand and a mug in the other..
“Don’t mind the hounds, there let out at night to stop werewolves from sneaking uup”.
After you finish the vile concotion he steps to the side and says
“Welcome to Ascanor”.

A beer barrel chested man storms up through the great hall into the Grand Ballroom. Immeadiately as he moves in you see everyones gaze immeadiately shift to him. The man looks more like a bear then a human, his thick black bead covering the majority of his face. Supported on the mans shoulders is one of the largest axes you have ever seen. His entire body is cover in wolf skins. Everybody seems to hold there breath until the man speaks up.
“I’m thirsty”.
Almost immeadiately the majority of the servants head straight for the kitchen. He blurts out
“Food also”.
Estovion picks up the cat on his lap and plops it onto the floor. Estovion moves over and greeks the man. Estovion seems a little shocked at the mans sudden appearance. Estovion has changed his posture and is barking orders, the man must be a person of some importance. You manage to catch a smidgeon of the conversation while preparing for you next act.
“… dam she wolf gave me the slip again…. ".
Ivanja and Niama moved to comfort the burly man as he chomps into some cooked chicken bone legs recently brought out to him by Ruessa.

Ulli decided that he had delayed enough. He strode quickly through the beautifully decorated hallways, past familiar faces and strangers, all dressed formally for the evening’s ball. He stopped momentarily at the doorway of the ballroom and leaned in as far as he could, looking over the heads of the crowd and past conversations. Finally, he spotted Carrow. Squinting hard at him, Alinka thought.
‘Carrow may be in trouble. Someone spoke with your voice outside. The walls whisper. Warn our friends. Bloody banners might be here.’
You see Ulli and the bear man share words filled with venom. The two respect each other but it seems as though there is no love loss between them. Unable to hear there conversation clearly, it is ulli who leaves through the grand hall header for the back courtyard. Only moments later you see tbe bear man crush a metal goblet with his hand. You are sure noe the pair do not like each other.
“Haha…. I see they let any stray dog in now”, Yhorlac says as the brute chomps on another piece of meat.
“Yhorlac,” Ulli nods as he approaches him, his gaze sweeping through the room,
“It thrills me to see you alive, friend.”
Images 5

<read>
Ulli pulls back a chair and sits in it next to the massive hunter. The serving girls all scramble away to the opposite side of Yorlac, as if to get away from Ulli.
“Ha!” Yhorlac bellows, noticing this,
“The girls, they don’t like you! Ha! You must have fleas from your dogs!”
Ulli smiles coldly and looks at the girls.
“Not my kind.”
He says, his harsh gaze causing one of them to look away.
“I’ll say, there isn’t enough hair on these ones, ha!” Yorlac roars, slapping his knee under the table. The girls all titter and laugh. Ulli keeps his cool. Yorlac pushes the plate of chicken to Ulli and Ulli leans forward to pour some beer for Yarloc. Ulli and Yorlac nod their thanks to each other and Ulli picks up a chicken leg and eats it sparingly.
“I know she’s sick, Ulli,” Yorlac said, the humor gone from his spirit,
“I just hope when I finally catch up with her she offers me the fight I deserve. There ain’t no sport in killing a wounded prey.”
<read>
“I haven’t seen her for weeks, friend, I wouldn’t know if she sick.”

Love

Ulli said flatly. Yorlac grinned at him, before taking a large slurp from his silver goblet.
“With Kvaka Sain dead, there are few creatures in these woods worthy of a fair fight. But knowing I killed the last of the bitches pups will do my conscience some good”.
He lets out a large belch releasing the built up gases in his stomach.
<read>
“There still plenty of fight left in Shudderwood,” Ulli said, loudly enough for any nearby Silver-hands to hear, but not necessarily the whole tavern,
“Plenty of big Werewolves, not these little Silver-hides. Killing Silver-hides is like killing puppy-dog. Big brave scary hunter, you are. South-west is Primordials, biggest beasts in woods. Home to Vollensag, who really is biggest beast in wood. And in opposite direction the Werewolves with thick, black hides. Real sport. Lead by Adimarus Ionacu, a legend in some order of knights. A Paldin, but a bad Paldin.”
Ulli discarded his chicken bone and leaned back in his seat. Yorlac belched again before stuffing a baked potato in his maw.
“You know I have no quarrel with you Ulli, but if you interfere this time, I will split you in half”
Yorlac says, indicating his great-axe with his thumb.
“I assure you friend, I have no intention of interfere. You interfere with me, however and your arrow-ridden fat hide will be dumped in nameless grave.”
Ulli stared at Yorlac, who returned the stare. After about ten seconds, the pairs faces gain humor and they both laugh, patting one another on the shoulders, as if old friends. The girls laugh too, though unsure of what they laugh at.
“Come, theres no need to be so uncivil while we are here. Stay and drink, we are equals, you and I!” “No thankyou, friend,” Ulli said,
“I heard you were here and decided to visit. I must be going,”
he said with a yawn as he rose from the table,
“I nearly died this day and am needing a full night rest.”
“Take care, Ulli.”
“And you, Yhorlac.”
Ulli leaves the chair out and motions with his arm to the girls around Yarloc that the chair is free. He nods to Lancel, to Carrow and makes his way out into the hallway.

Ulli watched the doctor momentarily and only when Carrow cast him a wayward glance and a wink did Ulli leave the ballroom, returning to the path he had craved for days. Finally, he came to his lodgings and gently opened the heavy wooden door, his heart pounding and his breath held. He stepped into the room, of which only the bed and some furniture was visible in the little amount of light that poured through from the doorway. The sounds of the ball in the distanced were a muffled ambience to the ranger, whose attention was in the room. He sniffed the air and his heart skipped as he shook with excitement.
‘Yselda is here,’ he thought to himself. Smiling, he unshouldered his bow.
‘Our little game. First, she closes the door.’ Behind him, the door closed with a dull creak and a gentle click. He removed his quiver, sword and pouches and let them drop to the floor at the end of the bed.
‘Then, she lights candle on shelf behind me.’
With the crack and hiss of a flint sparking and a wick igniting, he felt his skin tingle with the excitement of what was to come. He removed his hat, his soft, lightly coloured Ustalavian mohawk tumbled down over his left eye. He unfastened his hides, pelt, vest and belt and let all of them drop to the floor. In just moments, he’d feel her cool, smooth bare skin pressed against his, the taste of her lips caressing his, the smell of her silky black hair flooding his nostrils and see the unforgettable sight of her vibrant green eyes peering into his soul.
He removed his linen undershirt and dropped it to the floor. Any second now, her naked arms would slip around his waist, her bare breasts would settle into his scar-torn back and she would kiss him on his neck, just behind and below his ear, into which she would whisper
‘V-am prins,’ Ustalavian for ‘Caught you.’

Werewolf 1

He waited, but it never came.
Ulli turned to face a fully-clothed Yselda and found her staring up at him, pain in her green eyes. Instantly, Ulli both felt sick to the stomach and pained by her expression.
“Yselda, I…” Ulli said softly.
“I know,” she said, her voice giving him goosebumps,
“You’re sorry about my mother. I know.” Ulli said nothing. He didn’t have to.
“I need to say something and its going to hurt me to do so,” she said, a tear rolling down her cheek. Ulli stepped forward to embrace her, but she took a very hesitant step back when he did so.
“Oh,” Ulli said. Yselda nodded, sniffing. “Modrinacht has taken charge,” she began,
“He lets the Silverhides die as Vollensag’s Primordials and the Demonwolves attack us. Even Silver-hands are getting closer to our homes than ever before. But he doesn’t co-ordinate us. I want to.”
She looked up at Ulli, her lip shaking.
“By the gods, do I want to. But Modrinacht has his sights set on Highthrone and he waits as if something is about to happen. He knows something Ulli.”

Lonely kristen stewart 101532

“I spoke to Vollensag earlier,” Ulli said softly as he sat on the side of the bed,
“He say that Modrinacht speaks to man named Vrood. Evil man, travels with-”
“Four others, at least,” Yselda said, sitting next to Ulli,
“Black Banners, they call themselves. I’m aware of them. I also know that there is a traitor here in the lodge who is in dire need of being found out and butchered. The traitor managed to get a pair of pups in the holding pens downstairs. I’m not sure whose pups they are, but they need to be freed. Silver-hands are getting drunk and when they’re drunk they’re nastier than usual.”
Ulli nodded and rose from the bed, stopping down again to pick up his clothes and dress himself again.
“What are you doing?” Yselda asked.
“Saving the pups,” Ulli replied as he pulled his shirt back on,
“What happens to you, my love?” Yselda smiled at Ulli, knowing what he needed to do.
“I need to return to Highthrone. As Kvaka’s daughter I need to preside over the ancient rites.” “?
Then wait here, I will come with you!” Ulli said, turning his hide vest the right way around.
“No,” Yselda said softly,
“You will be in too much danger. You are safer here with the friends you entered the wood with. You can do more for me with them than with me.”
Ulli stared at her as she rose from the bed. She stood square to him with her gloved hands on her hips.
“You need to unite the tribes for me Ulli. I can’t do it, I don’t know who I can trust. Apart from you. Deal with Modrinacht and not only will the Silverhides be free to follow my leadership, but you will win some favour from them. Favour for us.”
She said, slowly stepping closer to him. He looked at her, smiling slightly as he fastened his belts up.
“Khamalia might be able to help us,” Yselda began,
“Provided she isn’t on Vollensag’s leash anymore. The Broken Ones were our closest allies before…”
She paused, her lip shaking. Ulli understood the gravity of ‘before.’
“And you need to get a hold of Rhakis and the Prince Wolves. Word is that Vrood and friends are Whispering Way, a group of cultists.”
“Whispering way,” Ulli said, narrowing his eyes as he tracked through his memory,
“I know of these. My friends speak of them. What have they do with Prince wolves?”
“My mother told me that the Prince Wolves came from Varisia many many years ago and they came under the promise that they would hunt down the Whispering Way.”
“And Varisians keep promises…” Ulli whispered.
“I don’t know what you’ll do about Vollensag though,” Yselda said,
“You can’t appeal to his charm and personality.” Ulli smirked, recalling his conversation with the great beast.
“But the Primordials are valuable to us,” She said,
“if there is a possible way to deal with Vollensag but get the tribe in line, I’d take it.”
“And when all this is done, how will I find you?” Ulli asked, shouldering his bow. Yselda stood almost toe to toe with him, holding his hat in her hands.
“I’ll send word to you, my love.” She reached up to his head and placed his hat on it. While her arms were up he quickly wrapped his arms around her waist, scooped her up and spun her around. She giggled with delight at this and held his shoulders tightly. She struggled to recompose herself when he gently placed her down. Neither had let go of the other.
“Will you do something for me?” Yselda whispered. Ulli pressed his lips against hers and the two kissed for a few seconds before he pulled away.
“No,” he said, “I won’t do that.” Yselda smiled weakly.
“I hope you will,” she whispered. Ulli ignored the comment and kissed her again.
“I love you, my huntress,” he said.
“And I love you, my hunter,” she replied, her eyes gleaming in the candlelight. Ulli released her and strode to the door and slipped out into the hall, his path set to the holding pens to see which pups were being held there. Yselda closed the door softly behind him and swiftly and silently slipped out the window, through the shadows of the courtyard, up the vines and over the wall, into the forest. When she was out of sight of the lodge, she dropped to her hands and knees and vomited painfully. It was the second since she woke that she had been sick this day. She thought back to all the previous days in the week that she had also been sick and wondered what it meant.

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Petros Lorrimors Journal

Journal 10th of Desnus , 4710 . Another murder occured in Lepidstadt today, the beast is purported to be responsible. It is funny how Just before Cormarc returns to Lepidstadt a person dies. Alphon and I have been conducting research in secret in Lepidstadt for almost 5 years. If the Order knew I’d suffer major concequences for working alongside the man.

7th of Arodus , 4710 The university found out I had been conducting secret research with Alphon Cormarc. Due to the bad blood between Alphon snd the university they have decided to repremand me on a two year suspension from teaching at the university. I should have known better. The order of the Palantine eye have set there sights on me and cast me out like a lepper. They did not approve of me working with Alphon, but we had accomplished much in such a short time frame. Krane has been funding our research into discovering the secrets of the dark tapestry. I always feared Alphon had a much different use of our research then I did. I’d always wondered of exploring far away lands with my friends. Discovering new species. It does not matter now, as the Ordere confiscated all the research Alphon did not escape with. The little I salvaged I sent to Viktor Von Drakh, perhaps he can continue my research.

12th of Arodus , 4710 just want to get out of the Orders clutches, they control to much and have to much power. Nearly every noble in Lepidstadt or person of intelligence is under there control. I do not agree with how they handel things. They treated Alphon poorly, stealing his lands and wealth from under him just because he wished to leave the order. If they have the ability to over throw a king watch chance do I have.

15th of Arodus, 4710 The Palantine eye have siezed control of most of my assets, to teach me a lesson of working alongside traitors to the order. Alphon has fled Lepidstadt for his own safety. it is lucky I still have friends in the order. Embreth is helping me out for the time being. She is trying to convince the order to go easy on me. I just wish Kendra knew how much Embreth meant to me, but how could I tell her. I am going to try my luck at adventuring to get us out of debt.

5th of Lamashan , 4710 I adventured with a halfling named Ecthelian. We discovered an ancient tomb to a long forgotten cult. The Whispering Way or something they were called. Ecthelian saved my life. I found a magical scimitar at thr tomb. I intend to study it. Hmmm maybe I will keep it as a reward for the halfling should we ever meet again.

19th of Lamashan , 4710 I met another man named Father Ezekial. He has asked me to study the terrible affliction that inhabbits his body.

27th of Lamashan , 4710 I have study Ezekial long enough to realise he will never return to his former self. Whatever he was exposed to has left him with a sickly appearance. He has agreed to see me regularly as is possibke to make sure whatever it is that ravages his body does not get worse.

6th of Kuthona, 4710 I woke up today to find two dead whippoorwhirls on my windowsill. Ancas foretelling has finally come true. It’s every bit as dreadful as she promised. I have almost no money except the manor in Ravensgro.

I know growing up in Ravengro hasn’t been the easiest on Kendra. Although she didn’t remember very much about living in Lepidstadt, as a child she would often tell me of dreams of a big city. I tried to tell her all children have these types of dreams, but I don’t know if she ever truly accepted it.

I’m going to sell my home so that at least Kendra can finally return to the big city and hopefully I can dig my way out of the trouble I am in with the order. It might be good for Kendra, as she might finally meet Embreth.

8th of Kuthona, 4710 I’ve been spending my spare time adventuring. I met a dwarf named Ogrhen. We had an interesting adventure together.

10th of Kuthona, 4710 I leave today for Lepidstadt. I’ve had Professor Crowl put out feelers for any interested buyers. I haven’t told my other colleagues about my plans. They’ll find out soon enough. Embreth has given me an ancient Palantine text, she believes if I can transcribe it, it may go along way with regaining favour in the order.

25th of Kuthona, 4710 I have secured a buyer for my property. One Dr. Adivion Adrissant, an old friend. I’ve signed the papers over for a sum that should allow Kendra to settle into Lepidstadt quite comfortably, despite my personal money troublew. I was able to convince Adivion that I have some unfinished business in Ravengro that would need to be dealt with and requested he hold off until the 30th of Gozran before moving in. He was quite amenable to the idea once I explained he could hold off on paying me for the property until the 1st of Calistril, at which point it would be held by the Bank of Abadar until the agreed date.

This should provide enough time for Kendra to move at her leisure.

26th of Kuthona, 4710 I had dinner with Professor Viktor Von’Drakh last night. I had been planning on slipping out of Lepidstadt before anyone from the university knew I was here. However I’m glad I relented and spoke with him. He’s doing quite well for himself and seems to have settled into things well enough. I asked him how his research was going, he was very distant with his response.

29th of Kuthona, 4710 I cannot believe the difficulties I had getting into Tamrivena today. The guards at the gate were being completely unreasonable, demanding to know what my business was and why I was travelling on the road. I had to pull quite a few strings simply to get through the damn gate! I was half tempted to simply spend the night in Nathrus, but it didn’t come to that. This time. I don’t know what’s happened to this town, but I simply don’t have time to be dealing with petty thugs such as these. I’ve got far too many things to do once I get home.

3rd of Abadius, 4711 It was good to see Kendra when I got home. I forgot to get her a gift like I usually do. She seemed to shrug it off saying she was probably too old to get a treat whenever her father went away.

The disappointment in her voice still stung though.

5th of Abadius, 4711 I’m concerned that some unusual people have been snooping around Ravengro while I was away. Perhaps I’m just getting paranoid, but some of the comments people have made are somewhat unsettling.

14th of Abadius, 4711 I’m not growing paranoid, there have been strangers lurking around in the woods. I have my suspicions as to who it might be, but I have no idea what they could possibly want.

25th of Abadius, 4711 Of course. I’m such a fool for not seeing it before. There is only one possible reason they could have for being here. But why now? Why after all this time? This requires further investigation, but I don’t have too much time left.

29th of Abadius, 4711 It seems the rumours aren’t all just old ghost stories after all. That helps explain their interest in the place. But it doesn’t explain why now. Regardless I believe quite strongly that they’re after something <crossed> someone that was there. Father Dimitru should be able to help me with that.

1st of Calistril, 4711 I see just how ill prepared I was when I first headed out there. I am lucky to have returned at all. But of course I know luck didn’t have anything to do with it. I’ll get some benefit from that damn curse before I go.

I remember reading clues and hints about a crypt in the Restlands. I’ll need to go searching through my notes. I should never have let my supplies get so low to begin with. That was a foolish error on my part.

3rd of Calistril, 4711 Perhaps my memory is failing me. I’ve scoured through all of my books and haven’t been able to find the notes I need. I was positive it was in Ravengro. I couldn’t be getting this town confused with another one. Could I?

Success! My memory wasn’t failing me after all. The false crypt is in the intersection between Eversleep and the Black Path. I wonder if Father Grimburrow knew about it? I guess I’ll find out soon enough.

5th of Calistril, 4711 I redrew my will yesterday and had Hearthmount witness it and store it away. He was quite perturbed by the fact I’ve signed over and sold my house to an outsider, But Adivion is a friend and because the university has sought to rob Alphon and me of our research, I needed the money to survive. Adivion has agreed to allow Kendra to remain in the manor and is comming to visit and sign papers I guess the rumour mill will be working overtime by the end of today.

I made sure I sat down and had dinner with Kendra last night. Our first meal together since I saw those two whippoorwhirls. I was almost going to tell her that I’ve sold the place, but got distracted and then forgot about it. Best not to let her know of our money troubles until Adivion arrives.

I helped myself to a few of the items in the crypt. Anymore wouldn’t do ME any good. I’ve gotten no sleep tonight as I’ve thought long and hard about who to contact in order to deal with them. I doubt I’ll take them out by myself.

10th of Calistril, 4711 Adivion has arrived and signed the documents to keep the manor in kendras name. He has been such a good friend. Kendra and zI would have been living on the streets if it was not for him. I have decided not to say anything about the strange things I have witnessed in Harrowstone. Instead going to send out letters to real adventurers I have adventured with to help me confront the cultists.

13th of Calistril, 4711 I finished my last letter this morning. I didn’t want to say too much, because the gods only know whose hands the parcels might actually fall into. In fact, I’ve done my best to be downright cryptic. Hopefully their interest will be piqued and they’ll investigate matters in more depth.

14th of Calistril, 4711 Something or someone knew about the letters I sent Ecthelian, Oghren, Anca, Ezekial, Darnys and Viktor. They were intercepted somehow. Poor Percy Chambers was found dead, his head had been removed. I am sure now that someone is tipping off the Whispering Way. It could be Benjan, he seems to always be lurking around the Restlands. His eyes slways seem to follow me wherever I go.

I have given this to my most trusted friend Adivion whose in town visiting and told him to leave town. If anything should happen to me Adivion is to pass this onto one of my friends. I did not tell Adivion to much about the danger I am in, because I did not want to put him at risk to. I redrafted my will and gave it to Grimburrow should something happen to me, my friends wilk know about whsts happening in Ravensgro. I left another journal in my footlocker to pass onto my friends should I die. I feel bad having to keep Adivion in the dark about whats going on, but the man is a scholar, not an adventurer.

15th of Calistril, 4711 A man called Auren Vrood stopped by my house and spoke to me about Harrowstone prison. I was a little cautious of the man at first. But after talking with him he convinced me he wanted to help dwal with the Whispering Way that are up at Harrowstone. He told me how he’d been tracking them for some time. He shared my fears about whatever it was the cultist were up to.

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The puppet show

The performance will tell the story of a young princess who falls in love with a wear wolf hunter. The love story is juxtaposed by the story of the young hunters quest to destroy a wear wolf stalking the nearby forest. Both story arcs come together for the final act where the hunter corners and kills his prey, only for the hideous corpse to whither into the form of the beautiful princess, forced to hide her true self to the world .

weareallpuppetbyheadstock

Act 1 Scene 1. Carrow will begin with a hunt. Using far hand carrow will manipulate a second wooden puppet I posses. Lilith will play the part of the hunter, the other puppet will be the wolf. The bard will be playing dramatic fast music as carrow manipulates the puppets mimicking a hunt. The scene will end with the hunter slaying the wolf.

The puppeteer Puppet show by relsh

Act 1 scene 2. The scene will open with Lilith, now playing the role of the princess, she will begin by singing a song. Carrow will humm along. The song will focus on the princess’s love for the hunter. The other puppet will play the role of the hunter and will stand to the side of the stage with his back turned. Lil will sing of the trails of love, the difference of her station in life compared to the hunter, and how her parents forbid the romance. Overall the song will focus on follow ones heart and not letting family and duty stand in the way of fate. It will be a somber but inspirational song. I will manifest false sensory input on tergsvor, causing carrows humming to sound like the voice of tergsvors brother, softly singing along to the song, becoming louder during the parts of the song about follow ones heart. Lils perform song is +8. The bard will play somber music. Lilith will manifest control flame to dim the candles, having them brighten during the inspirational parts of the song.

(rolled 16, carrow +11, aid +4 [Lilth/bard] = 31)

The crowed gives out an almighty cheer at the puppet performance duing the 2nd intermission. Many of the servant rush to the kitchen to fetch more bottle of wine as not to miss out on the 3rd act. Reabauld to your rear seems quite weary, playing for such a long time has tired out the young bard. Despite being weary, the bard wishes to push on with the show letting Carrow know “There is to much coin on the line not to continue”. He casts a dancing light spell during the intermission. Thelghts themselves take the form of wild unicorns running about the woods.

Cilias Graydon now seems more animated then ever, although full of wine he has tossed more then 17 gp near the edge of the stage. Many of your compatriots seem to be enjoying the show to the rear of the ballroom, while most of the other guest have pulled up tables and chairs in order to get closer to the performance. Even Estovion seems to be quietly enjoying the show, leaving his books alone for the moment. He pushes his glasses back over his long nose and gives you a quite serious look as he claps. Towards the eastern wall you can see Markiza and Ostvarch holding hands, when they notice your gaze they quicly let go of each other. Corvin Tergsvor still seems hellbent on giving the new comers a hard time, moving around from table to table trying explain to people just how poor the performance is. Every so often you hear a glimsp of the man heckles: He lets out another insulting heckle, “I courted harpy wenches who could tell a better story then this”, however few people in the room give the man any attention. Eventually, making his way over to Ostin, Corvin seems to have found an unlikely ally. The two begin to joke amongst themselves. Looking towards Silivio the man gives you a slight nod and raises his glass, before returning to speak with Ecthelian. Adivion gives you a small clap, before picking up a staff resting against the wall and moving over to Ecthelian also. Delgros and Vladimoor quietly drink mouthfuls of wine in silence, showing no emotional response at all to the display. Belik the porter seems to have disappeared from the room. Meanwhile Ruessa, Vasoray and Bidthe seem to be engrossed in a conversation of what is going to happen next. Niama and Ivanja seem to have warmed up to the watcher, the pair now sit either side of him. Every so often you catch glimpses of one of the caressing the man leg or hand. You see Lancel pull Scarlett to the side. The pair have a brief conversation before the Paladin disappears in the darkness heading in the direction to the grand hall.

Act 2 scene 1: the young man attacked by the werewolves in the previous scene stands before the king. The king and the young man are played by wooden puppets. Lilith stands to the side as the princess. The young man explains to the king how he was attacked by werewolves. Outraged the king talks about a white wolf that has been seen by the villages and how this white wolf must be the clan leader. The king calls for arms, and declares war against the wolves. Whilst this happening the princess dances a mournful dance around the stage. The bard plays dramatic music whilst the king speaks, and sorrowful music when lilliths dance climaxes. This concludes act2 scene 1.

Act 2 scene 2: this scene I s the climax of act 2. It shows the princess, played by Lilith, standing on her balcony looking out across the woods. She sings a song, a tormented song, about her fears of being a wolf, and the hatred the humans feel towards her kind. She sings about her love for the young hunter, and the hatred in his heart. She is conflicted, she knows entering the woods and warning the wolves of the humans plot will surely lead to her demise. She knows top the power of the wolves, the hatred they feel for the humans, a hatred breed out of years of persecution. If the hunter enters the woods she does not know if he will return. She is torn. As the song progresses the sounds of men gathering and the lights of torches can be seen. The humans gather an army to wipe out the wolves, the moon is high in the sky. She makes a decision to flee into the woods and reason with the wolves, for it is the only way she can save both the wolves and the hunter. As the scene ends a single tear rolls down the echeek of the princess.

Puppetz

Act 2 scene 3 begins with the princess standing on the balcony over looking the army below. She turns to leave as the hunter enters her room. He walks over and wipes the tear off the princesses. Cheek. He tells her not to be scared, no harm will come to him. The princess and the hunter begin to dance. It is a long dance, and you get a sense of a finality between the two of them. This scene is the climax of the love between the princess and the hunter. The princess whispers for him not to join the hunt, he tells her the wolves must be defeated. His hatred shines through. At the end of the dance they embrace and kiss. Nothing more is said and the hunter leaves the room. The princess watches him go, before transforming into the white wolf. She stands for a moment watching where the prince left, before fleeing in the other direction towards the forest. The bard plays no music after the couple embrace, and the remainder of the scene plays out on silence.

The crowd still seems to be engrossed with the display, even Delgros and Vladimoor seem to be quietly enjoying themselves. As you look around the room you do notice the absence of a few whom have decided to call it a night. Quiene, Corvin, Belik, Silvio, the Watcher and Ostin appear to have left the grand ballroom. Vasoray, Bisthe and Ruessa all seem to still be enjoying themselves. Cilias Graydon is still very animated, clapping and cheering. Estovion along with a large jet black cat perched on his lap enjoy sit quietly nearby. Furtherback Markiza and Lancel seem caught in a deep and meaningful conversation. Every now and then you catch a glimsp of Ostovachs face nearby. He gives the pair a scowl in there general direction every so often. It seems old Paucy Troabs has had to much wine. Ladimuer is struggling with old Paucy, trying to help him to his feet. Yvonna comes and goes ferry more wine from the kitchens. Finally Ivanja and Niama are enjoying each others company. You see Adivion hand Ectherlian a book and a staff, not well suited for the small halfling.

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Meeting Ascanors Guests

The adventurers slowly recover from the strange divination, waking up in a large furnished wooden room.

Funny dog pictures hangover puppy

Nearby a man wearing a strange hat bows. “Sorry for the deception friends, my name is the Watcher and I have given you all an insight into the past, present and future of your lives. It was important I learnt your intentions incognito”.

With that last state a heated discussion breaks out amongst the group, in particular between Ecthelion and the Watcher. It takes slmost twenty minutes for those involved to calm down. Eventially the party decide to explire the lodge, leaving the room.

Waiting paitiently out in the hallway the halfling porter waits for the party to emerge from their rooms. Once they emerge he says;

“I am sorry again for the troubles earlier at the gatehouse, but it is this establishments duty to turn away those without the right credentials to ensure the privacy and safety of the lodges guests are maintain. Errr.. I would like to take you on a tour to show you what the lodge has to offer but it looks as though one of your friends may have had a little to much to drink” looking at the watcher.

“If you wish I can take you in the morning. But if you would accompany me to grand ballroom I know there are drinks prepared for your enjoyment. Duristan Silvio Ariesir has agreed to foot your bill while you stay at the lodge. Master Duristan Silvio Ariesir and Master Adivion Adrissant wish to speak to you. As does Estovion Lozarov, Lodge Warden of Ascanor. I know Master Adivion Adrissant has a keen interest in speaking with Master Ecthelian, I believe he has some items for you as a gift from a Lady named Kendra Lorrimor, along with a letter. Feel free to call upon any of the staff during your stay. The lodges only rule is that you contact Warden Lozarov if you wish to access restricted areas of the lodge and you refrain from tresspassing in other patrons room without the consent”.

After circling down a spiral staircase you arrive at the grand ball room.

“Here we are, please enjoy your night. I will contact you when your other friends arrive from there outiing into the woods, Alinka and Ulli I believe there names were”.

Almost as soon as you enter a skinny man with glasses moves to greet you, with a cross look on his face directed at Belik the halfling.
“Err sorry mylord….”
Taking a deep breath Belik the halfling says “Esteemed guests, may I present Estovion Lozarov, Lodge Warden of Ascanor”.

Estovian

Estovion bows and presents a formal introduction.
“Please do not hold the actions of my porter against him. The error in your improper greeting was entirely mine. I neglected to inform my staff of the open invitations I gave to the dire gamblers” Giving the watcher a wink.
“And the son of Elmore Dane who told me his son was here to research something” looking at Lancel.
“They did not recognize the reservation. Rest assurred however, that all of the lodges facillities are at your disposal, including our libraries for you recreational use. Lancel and your friends will find them upstairs off the general hall. There is also a secondary library near my personal quarters, which would be better suited for research…… Enjoy your stay and feel free to mingle with the other guests here at the grand ballroom. Now I am afraid I must take my leave as you are not theonky guests arriving tonight.”
Estovion hives you another bow and moves off towards a desk in the ballroom.

Looking around the ballroom you can see all the lodges patrons in the room, intently listening to Reabauld play a tune on his lute. All except Silvio seem transfix. Instead Silvio seems intent on causing a ruckus, flailing his wine cup about and flirting on nearby female servants. In particular Silvio has the young chambermaid Vasoray cornered, and with a wine bottle clutched in his hand is trying to force the young lady to drink with him. As he notices you enter, Silvio turns his attention and says

Duristan

“Arrrhhh welcome, welcome, welcome, I’d been waiting for tonight to provide some enjoyment. My name is Lord Duristan Silivio Ariesir, but you can dispense with formalities and simply call me Silivio”. The man gives you a low generous bow of respect.

“I saw you at the gates and was hoping you would have accompanied me on a small regatta hunting, but alas whatever was in that drink you had put you in some sort of trance. I really did want to speak with you, so I offered to pay for your lodgings until whatever it was your drank wore off. The medicus said the effects would wear of after a short while. And here you are”.

Walking along the party glancing at each from head to toe, all except scarlett whom his eyes seem stuck somewhere inbetween Silvio introduces himself to each member of the party.

“Truely ravishing my dear and what flower would pertain thy name” looking at Scarlett and offering to kiss her hand.

Scarlett notices him staring where he shouldn’t be and brashly says

Howardbush

“Keep your eyes to yourself creepo, there is no party going on there. The names Scarlett.” Whilst pulling her hand away showing no attraction to him at all.

Kissing the mid air were Scarletts hand once was Silvio he composes himself and says “Well now Lady Scarlett I see you you are quite the rare jewel indeed, take no offense from my advances for it is rare for the lodge to have a Mistress of the seas in these parts”.

Scarlett puts a smile on her face and laughs while saying under her breath
“You have not the slightest idea of what I am, a rare jewel indeed I could end your life in a matter of seconds you pathetic worm, however you may obtain valuable information, why not play into your ego as Babette says a man’s weakness is a woman’s heart.”

Silvio continues his little speech to Scarlett saying,
“You should be glad I’m not a Viking from the Lands of the Linnorm Kings or you would have been ravaged and plundered by now. Hahaha”.
Silvio pauses for a moment to see if his words have the desired effect.

Vikings2

After a slight pause Scarlett responds

“Haha…My… my… you really do need to work on your charm, I’ve seen a woman kill a man for far much less, lucky for you I find such vulgar comments….. exhilarating.” she purrs.

“Please forgive me, a poor attempt at humour my lady, these woods have made me wild indeed” pausing once more.
“I am more interested in hearing of your tales on the open seas and the life of a female adventure”.

“No no. No harm done my lord, it is I who should appologise. You have been a generous host paying for our lodgings. I Suppose that’s what comes natural to a woman after living with foul-mouthed pirates for so long. I would be hapy to share my tales with you but I am afraidmy travelshave left me parched and not drssed or pampered for such an occasion”
Looking away she grabs her file out and starts to manacuring her nails but now showing a little more affection towards him, just to let him think that he has caught her.
“Forgive me, for my bad temperament, being strayed in the wilds for so long has quite the effects on a woman, being on a ship is like paradise, drinking whenever you desire, not having to be on constant alert for werewolves”, she stops for a moment placing her hands on her hips.
(Diplomacy 11+Roll to make more friendly)
“Its just you and the open sea. How does a fine man like yourself confine to a place like here, don’t get me wrong the lodge itself is kinda nice.”

“I would have to agree with you lady Scarlett, the woods are a dangerous place. But they are wild and full of adventure, things one will never see in the larger cities. The lodge is a place I come to enjoy the company of adventurers like yourself, that is whenothunting werewolves. I confine myself to rid the Shudderwood of the menace you areno doubt aware of. For to long the woodshave been thewerewolves dominion. My friends and I are blooking to change that. We are called the silverhand, a silver flameof Sarenrae justice that seeks to heal those cursed by lycanthrope and destroy those that cannot. We all take an oath, or a pledge never to allow a werewolf to live”.
Silivio stops for a moment to let his words sink in, watching Scarletts reactions.
Silivio sees Scarlett getting a little bored with his line of questioning.

“Well, my ranting aside, we get a manner of all thrill seekers here at the lodge. But I must say I have never met on as fine as mylady. What brings you this way”.
Looking towards the wench Vasoray Scarlett says
“Give me two goblets and a bottle of your finest wine” she purrs.
“None of that awful on the house wine, these luscious lips only endure the finest you have to offer.” Turning back to SilIvio.

“As you wish Mylady, Vasoray moves and grabs two fine goblets from a nearby cabienet and an expnsive looking wine bottle.

“Well I’d much rather not discuss business. I find your goal admirable, but I wish toenjoy my night here, asI may notbe here long”. Scarlett stretched out that last statment, changing her tone to resemble a woman who is lonely and in need of comforting.
“From where I come from it brings bad luck if you let a beautiful woman drink by herself.”
Giving Silivio a wink then leaving him to find a table nearby, also letting him a chance to speak to the others.

Scarlett sits down while waiting for her drink she begins to look at other guests body language and see what kind of mood they are in, whose friendly and whose not. (Taking 20 on both Perception 18+20=38 to notice or hear anything odd, Sense Motive 11+20=31 to determine the guests moods)

19889573

“Well, my mother would protest” Silivio thinks to himself eyeing Scarlett as she sits at the nearby table.
“Where are my manners”
With that last statement Silivio moves onto the next adventurer, the watcher.
“Welcome…..” Silvio waits for the strange man with lots of makeup on to respond.
“Thye nemae is Arrlecei…” the man slurrs his words a bit, wobbling on his feet from side to side.
“Errr it looks like someone has started the fun without the rest of us. I may have some competition tonight. Perhaps together we can convince the peacocks out here to soften up a little” Silivio says while looking at the watcher.
“After all the lodge does serve some of the finest wine and spirits in all Ustalav”.
“Auckkk” The warcher respoinds moving to find a chair, as his feet may give way at any moment. The watcher just took a short glance at Silivio’s expression to see if his ruse had been working. It had.
“Everybody can forgive a drunk” he thought to himself.
“Well now that I have our host a little off guard, its time to shake things really up” the watcher says to himself as he makes his way out of the room.
He returns moments latter in a new disguise.

Images 19

OOOH, a party??! Splendid!!” Alexei appears to be in a tailcoat tuxedo that he wasn’t wearing moments before entering the ballroom.

Images 28

“Begging your pardon, my Lord” Alexei bows
“But my comrades will regale you with the mighty and tragic tale of how we came to be within these fine walls. I, however, simply must have a dance!”
Alexei offers his hand to the chambermaid Vasoray.
(SEE THE WATCHERS DANCE)
Moving along to the next guest whom had been quietly drinking.
“Ohh and I see the elderly gentleman has brought his daughter. Strange adventuring with one so young” looking at Carrow, while giving Lilth a pat on the head.
“Please to meet you kind sir” the small girl says with a chuckle and a curtsey.
“I thank you for our lodgings. My name is Dr Carrow and this is my daughter Lilith”.
“Well you are a pretty one” Silivio says as he bends down to give lilth a small piece of candy from his upper pocket.
“I see the lodge has a stage that begs for a performance. Come Lilith lets put on a show to return lord Silivio in kind for his generosity. If I may your lord”
“Please go right ahead. We will have plenty of time to talk during your stsy at the lodge”.
Carrow makes his way up to the stage with Lilith in toe.

While Silivio introduces himself slowly making his way up to Lancel, Lancel looked around the room awkwardly, not quite feeling comfortable with all the unfamiliar faces, slightly sweating from the warmth of the room he tugs at the collar of his noble gown feeling light headed after taking his full plate off that he had been wearing for days.

Silivio moves over to Lancel next.
“I see we have Lepidstadt nobility here as well. Sir Lancel Dane, son of Sir Elmore Dane I believe. Tis good to see another not so bound by his courtly duties free to experience the world as it shoyld be. Ridding this world of abbominations, like I heard you did with the beast of Lepidstadt”, Silivio says feeling quite proud.

“And finally, the hero of Harrowstone, the man whom defeated an tusk mountain orc infront of an entire town, justice bringer to the criminals Vorkstag and Grine and the conquer of Scholoss Cormarcs, the halflig Paladin Ecthelion. I cannot believe such a vigilant soul resides in one so little. I mean no offense in my words. Rather I am intrigued on how you fight. Tales tell of you going face to face with all manner of creatures. I myself recently killed three werewolves. This armor still bears the stains of there blood”.

“Yes I am son of Elmore Dane. You are a generous man letting us stay at the lodge and paying for our lodgings”. Lancel says inbetween sips of wine.
“It is no problem at all. I have heard of yours and Ecthelions exploits. I hope before the night is through I may hear of your tales”.

“You will, from my friend here” Lancel says giving Ecthelion atap on the shoulder, causing him to spill aportion of his drink.
“There looks a lonely woman over there” Lancel says finishing is goblet of wine.
Lady Markiza suddenly catches his eye, so he decides to approach her.

" Beastly creatures werewolves, the deserve little mercy. What do you think of the matter halfling" looking at Ecthelian once more.

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Ecthlians dream reaction

Swan song4x3

Ecthelions head spun for a moment as he came out of the bizarre and troublesome vision. There was a bitter taste on his tongue. There must be foul play at work. Someone has duped me into drinking that which I have vowed not to. Witchery! he thought to himself, but the more he thought on the matter, the more it became obvious that it was no mere vision, but a premonition of what may be. He wished that it could be something else, and he sought for excuses over the probable truth. Emotions rose, and he lashed out at the others in the room, “You Carrow! I have had enough of your blabberings of threads and tapestries! And you, Poisoner, Drunkard, whatever you are, your foresights have no place in my mind! Get them out…GET THEM OUT!!”. Ecthelion bent over, clawing at his head. “I will not concede like you father… Saera, I will find you”, he whispered to himself. Memories of what his father had done were rising to his surface thoughts. A harrowing that should not have been… his father seeking a way to save his wife… A bargain with a devil! A life for a life. A mother for a daughter. All that should not have been, and had to be undone. Ecthelion taking his fathers own sword, and undoing the false life that his mother had been given, undoing the taint inside his father for selling his daughters soul. And finally, he saw the memory of himself, standing over his parents limp bodies, his fathers blade ‘the Sunraysia Razor’ in his hand.. blood dripping down the hilt and over his fingers.

Ecthelions head lifts out of his hands, and a single tear lies upon his cheek, and he simply says, “Excuse me, I wish to be alone a while,” before walking out of the room.

The Watcher approaches Ecthelion, as he gazes longingly at the stars, trying to make sense of it all. It has been some time since the incident. Without introduction, The Watcher speaks.

“I meant what I said, paladin. Though I can read thoughts and change behaviour at a whim, your thoughts and your future are entirely your own. As are all the stories of the comrades I’ve found in your company, and those that have gone before you. I don’t write the stories, and never will. I only watch them unfold.”

The Watcher pauses and bows his head as Ecthelion clenches his fists angrily. Alexei steps back and exhales, his head still bowed.

“I know your past, but I will never know you. It is rarely my place to interfere.”

The Watcher sighs and stares up at the stars.

“It was I who lead you here. It was I who has lied, and cheated, and masqueraded as others to follow you here. And it was I who caused you so much pain with something no other should ever have seen. That which I have shared with you, I have shared with no other in all the lives I have spent on this rock. Nor will I again. This is my curse, and I have brought it upon you.”

Ecthelion continues staring at the sky, fists clenched with barely suppressed rage.

“And I do apologise with utmost sincerity. But you must understand…”

The Watcher stares vacantly into the darkness for several moments, as if in a trance.

“Stories are not written by visions. Nor are they written by the past. Stories are written by deeds. And you will have your story, Ecthelion. With or without me, it makes no difference. I believe in you.”

The watcher dips his hat, and Alexei the drunk appears. He leans towards Ecthelion and whispers

“My name is Mnemosyne.” before he staggers drunkenly towards the door.

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