The Sins of the Father

The Night of Truth

Shortly after the Legendary Battle of Soule, A funeral was held for the fallen heroes who died. Followed by a celebration for the victory of an unlikely alliance of human, hobgoblin, and celestial. During the party, Sywulf and Eclipse had reunited with each other. However, the meeting was lukewarm. Sywulf had questions that needed answers. So the two found a secluded place to talk. She handed Sywulf's journal back to him. "I read the whole thing." "And?" He asked. "You haven't changed much." She lightly chuckled, but still with sorrow on her face. A few moments of silence passed before Sywulf finally spoke. "You said at the Well that you were in deep with a debt. What kind of debt?" She looked down at the floor. "What's your story?" He asked. "I… was born into slavery, in the underdark. That was most of my childhood. Then, one day an old  half-wood elf was able to free me. His name was Eban. And… He was like a father to me. Eban brought me to the surface. He was part of the Hushed. So soon I was inducted into their ranks. He trained and raised me. The other members could've cared less about me. Then one day, he went out on a solo mission to kill a noble." Tears started to come down her face. "He died… a knight got him. So I took my vengeance. Then, a few years went by, you and Hanzo started to cause trouble for us, weather you knew it or not. I… I… was sent to kill you both." Sywulf's eyes widened. He was speechless. He always thought it was just a coincidence. Their was a lot of money on the werewolf. "I was ordered to earn your trust. But as we travailed, I grew to enjoy your company. Later, I began to love you." Their was a light smile on the dark elf's face. Sywulf had no expression. He was taking in all the information and trying to peace things together, as he was trained to do. "The debt?" He asked calmly. "I asked much from them. Weapons, armor, money. Their were missions I failed. And even disobeyed some orders. I owed too many favours to the wrong people in the Hushed. Just to get out of trouble. After Eban died, I didn't care about the organization. The only reason they let me stay was because I was Eban's apprentice. After traveling with you two for a while, I saw my chance to get away from them. But I needed some way to keep up the appearance I was with them until I came up with a plan to lose them." "Did the Hushed ever send agents? They would have had to know you went rogue at some point." Sywulf said. "They kept sending contacts, but… hahaha… Hanzo kept intercepting them. He found out quickly I was Hushed. And what my mission was. But he never brought it up. Eventually, he was able to threaten one agent to report back that I was dead. No more Hushed after that. And I had no desire to go back. The only reason I stayed was because of Eban. A few days before he died, Hanzo took me off to the side and explained how he knew. I asked him why he never killed me, he said because I was redeeming myself. He was such a kind and good man. I didn't deserve his kindness." "Neither did I." Sywulf thought to himself. "Then, the night I left you was because the Hushed had found me. They sent me a message. Come back and they would let you live. Or stay, and they would kill us both." "Dumat was right." Sywulf thought. A moment of silence came back again. Then Eclipse spoke. "Please, say something. Anything." "In trying to save me, how many people did you kill? How many times did you break one of Hanzo's biggest rules?" He asked somewhat coldly. "I heard about your work in Veleth, just before we landed in the desert." "Too many." She responded. Her voice was filled with sorrow. "Do you hate me?" "No." Sywulf answered. "When I stepped into the Well of Many Worlds, I met Sune. And saw Hanzo." Eclipse looked up in astonishment. "Sune told me though she doesn't approve of my combative lifestyle, she said that she hopes I drive out the hatred in my heart. And to find love and peace in my life. I thought maybe she was talking about you. And Hanzo said that he's proud of me. And I will always try to do right by them. But not just them. But to the good people of this world as well. I just have one last question for you. Do you want to try and make things right?" Eclipse looked at Sywulf for a moment. Then took a deep breath and said "Yes. But can I… be redeemed?" "You can." "You forgive me?" She asked. "Yes. Your past is my past too. And I'll help however I can. But it will take time and much work." "What about us? Where do we stand?" Eclipse asked. "We both did some damage, so, let's take it slow for now." The two hugged each other. "I'm so sorry." Said Eclipse. "I am too." Sywulf responded. After awhile, Sywulf got up. "Come on, I'll introduce you to my friends." The two rogues made their way down to the main hall. Later that night, Sywulf looked up at the stars and said "You knew? Of course you did. Hahaha! Oh Sensei… Your the absolute best."

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Of Things to Come

(A prayer to all the good gods.)

It was evening, and there was the smell of blood, smoke and bodies in the air. The smell of death. A stench all too familiar to Sywulf. He stood alone at the top of the keep roof looking out at the army of evil. It was calm in Soule for the moment, for lack of a better term. The magic ward was back up around the city. Sywulf took a short time to himself after a failed assassination attempt on Anzel. He could hear wounded soldiers screaming in pain from the previous attack, the crying of civilians who lost their loved ones, and Khar shouting orders at both human and hobgoblin soldiers to fix some defenses. The ninja could see Lucian's attire helping heal soldiers and civilians alike.  Sywulf could see the whole city, or what was left of it. As the devils were smashing against the magic barrier, there were many things on his mind. "What are Dumat and Eclipse up to? Is Beashrevor apart of their plan?" But the one thing that kept tugging at him at the back of his head. "Is Jorgen out in that infernal mess?" As he gazed out to the horizon, he thought of one thing that couldn't hurt. He took a deep breath, got on his knees and started to pray. "Oh mighty gods of light, high among the stars… I speak to you in sorrow and with a heavy heart. Long has been our journey that lead us to this fight. And many of our friends now join you in the heavens. The world hangs in the balance. And the final battle is about to begin. I care not what happens to me, but please watch over and comfort all those who hurt. Who suffer. Who died. And please watch over my friends. Though we share no blood, they have become my brothers and sisters. Ilmater, thank you for sending Boris and the others my way. And easing my pain from the Champions grip. Sune? Can you hear me? I will never forget what you told me. And I am eternally grateful for your kindness and your gift my lady. I hope to make it through this and patch thing up with Eclipse. But if I die, please… give her comfort. And let her know that I will always have her back. And that I lover her. Eilistraee, please guide her and the other drow as you always have. Hanzo. I will always carry with me your teachings, and your kindness. To say I'm glad I got to see you one more time is a monumental understatement. And Tyr… Let us dispense justice upon the enemy. Oh mighty gods of light, thank you for everything. Amen." As Sywulf got back up on his feet, he wiped away the tears coming down his face. Then he put his mask back on and flipped his hood up. Then, as usual with a ninja, the Ghostblade used his acrobatics to make his way down to the ground and help Lucian with the wounded.

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The Liberation of Soule

Sywulf's Journal: Entry #9

Well… That could have gone better. Made it in Soule. To try and find someone who could take us to the resistance, we hit the nearest tavern. Sure enough we found a guy. I spoke to him in thieves cant, to keep things discreet. The old man told me that he could lead us to one of the hideouts of the resistance. He also told me that the cult of Asmodeus was destroying temples to the gods of light. One of which was Tyr's, the god of war that Shagar worships. I thought about not telling him. But it also didn't feel right not telling him about what happened to his patron god. Besides, I pulled him off to the side in the underdark. We came to an understanding. I thought being honest with him would get him to trust me more. So I told him of Tyr's temple. Mistake. He grew angry and erratic. Just then, the alarms sounded and the soldiers in the city were on the move. The soldiers in the tavern were marching out when Shagar tripped one of them. That caused a bar fight. I thought paladins were supposed to keep calm. Gods know that Yuan-ti paladins keep calm. Long story for another day. Anyway, beer bottles were flying, tabels were being smashed, and chairs were being used as weapons, good old fashioned bar brawl. While we were killing the enemy soldiers, Ydris shouted for us to get out of the way, next thing I know a fireball was cast by our sorceress and the whole tavern caught fire. So much for stealth. That being said, we did kill all the soldiers before they alerted the city. But as the tavern burned down, we all got split up. The old man from before got me and Tamrell to resistance HQ, where I now write. Breaks over now. Me and Tamrell are going to look for our friends. The night is young.

Not much time to write this. Ydris and I were captured, imprisoned, then sprung by our friends. Drayous was posing as one of the enemy. He helped in our escape. Still need to keep an eye on him. Killed a particularly ugly captain. In his office now preparing to take down Xabier and Tanis. Going to scout ahead.

Been a few days since I last wrote. Trying to come to terms with thing. We found Tanis posing as Xabier with some kind of illusion spell. Xabiers probably dead. We confronted Tanis trying some sort of sumining ritual spell. With her were two infernal freaks and a chained direr wolf. He could speak. And he hated his position. It was a hard fight. We killed the fiends and eventually, Razzel took control of Shagar and impaled Tanis. That stopped the ritual. And the talking wolf vanished into thin air. I searched Tanis'es body and found a magic scarf and Xabier's ring. Then, gods… Wander, Ydris, and Envy. Blood on the ground, but no bodies. It looked like they killed and took them somewhere. That left only me, Tamrell, Shagar, Drayous, Jhren, and Salcifer left. More soldiers were on the way, we couldn't stay to find our fallen comrades. So we slaughtered out way out. The soldiers coming at us were no match for our skill, and our fury. We made our escape via the sewers, an old trick of mine I used all the time back in Talin. Never got used to the smell. But we made it back to the HQ, where we rested and reported to the resistance leader, a halfling. The next day was the day we retook Soul. As Anzel's forces rocked the front gates, we took our positions. I was the archer, Shagar and Jhren were frontal assault, Tamrell was calling down thunder, and Salcifer was on the walls. Drayous was needed elsewhere. I admit, I was half tempted to go down on ground level and face the enemy with my blades. But I knew I was more useful as the archer. It was a hard battle, but Anzel's forces broke through. And Tanis'es troops retreated to the main hall, where Drayous and other resistance forces picked off the last of them. But we all did great that day. We met Anzel at the hall, where he congratulated us. Then, the talking wolf reappeared. And told us that Tanis was merely a pawn, not the Widow. Damn. However, he told us that the Widow and the Champion were lovers. And were once human. But more importantly, he told us that the Champion could be swayed to our side. His name is Acer, and was once a barbarian. The talking wolf was his friend once, before he turned into a creature of the darkness. I could hear in his voice that he still cared for his friend. And told us to go to the Well of Many Worlds. We would get the information we need. Good. The wolf then disappeared. But our next mission is clear. Yet, my mind is clouded with guilt. I couldn't save my friends. I talked to a priestess named Rose. She helped, but… I won't let their deaths go unpunished. Unavenged. The forces of darkness will pay. Not just for my friends, but to all who suffer. Shadow my armor. Fear my sword. Justice my drive. Vengeance my strength.

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The Ghost and the Angel
A past conversation between Sywulf and Eclipse

Several years ago…

It was raining with a light wind. The skies were gray and the birds singing was drowned out by the rain. "Happy birthday to me." Sywulf thought to himself. He was sitting alone underneath a tree that provided some protection from the storm. He was over looking the ocean trying to meditate. Something he hasn't done in awhile. While it wasn't bad where he was, the storm was much more harsh further out. He and Eclipse were a days walk from Shashaim. The two had decided to take a brake from assassinations for a few days. They had money to spare. Eclipse was sneaking up behind Sywulf, and then gave him a kiss on the cheek. Sywulf was startled and jumped. "What's this… a ninja caught off guard? Unthinkable." She joked. Sywulf smiled lightly. "Good morning." Sywulf said as he sat back down next to Eclipse. "Paid the innkeeper already?" She asked. "Yes." "Happy birthday Sy." She said. As Eclipse looked at Sywulf, she saw he was putting on a smile but could see in his eyes something was a matter. She knows Sywulf doesn't care much for his birthday. Mainly due to bad memories in Talin. It was also the day he killed Jorgen. Eclipse has always tried to make it better. But it seemed he had something else on his mind. "What's wrong?" "Nothing… I'm fine." Some annoyance came over Eclipse's face. "Sy. What's wrong? You can tell me anything you know." Sywulf took a deep breath. Then after a few seconds passed. "You love me, yes?" Not what she expected. "Of course I do… Sywulf, your scaring me" "No! I'm sorry. I'm not trying to scare you. I've been sitting here looking back at what I've done. The good and the bad. Do you think I'm becoming a good person?" "Sy, I wouldn't be with you if you weren't. Look, I know you hate what you did as a kid. Hanzo forgave you didn't he? He told me what he told you, that you were the victim." "I want to believe that, but I don't feel like the victim." "Sywulf, you were only a kid." She got closer and was hugging him now. "How many people have you saved since we met? How many have you saved before we met? You have to forgive yourself." "I don't know if I can." "Eilistraee teaches forgiveness. So do the other gods of light. Sy, we're together, your past is my past too. I'll help you get through it. You have to forgive yourself. Not just for you, but for me and Hanzo. You made a promise to him when he passed." "I know. I'll keep my promise, to both of you. Sywulf leaned into Eclipse. "Oh beloved… Who are you?  What is your past? What's your story?" Sywulf knew he wouldn't get an answer. He asked about her upbringing before. When Eclipse didn't answer, he didn't push out of respect. As the two rouges held each other for awhile, Eclipse finally spoke. "Do you love me Sy?" "Of course." Do you trust me?" "With my life." "Sywulf… in time I"ll tell you my story." The two eventually made it to there horses, and rode off toward Shashaim. They rode in silence for a while, then Sywulf finally spoke. "Thank you Shadow Angel." "Anytime Ghostblade. Anytime."

 

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Underdark
Sywulf's Journal: Entry #8

As we made our way back to Broken Hearth, we learned that a group of Anzel's men had started to party in the local inn. As some of the party made there way to inform the Baron of our success, Tamrell, Ydris and myself went to the inn and tell the commander of the company to pass along a message to Anzel. We found the commander hitting on a bar maiden. She told him to stop, he persisted. Memories of a general raping female officers came back to me. The commander didn't do anything extreme yet, so I decided to intervene. Told him to leave her alone. Let him off with a warning. Bar maiden moved to another table. Short story shorter, got into a fight with the commander. Took a beating. Everything worked out in the end. Had help from Ydris and Drayous. My friends poke fun at me for being a pig. But I know that no means no. I try to be a respectable pig. Been turned down plenty of times. I always apologize for bothering them and move on. I've turned down offers before too. 

Met the Baron. Nice kid. Let us stay the night at his residence. Good food and comfortable bed. Healed up. Back to full strength. Still a little sore. In the morning, We rode to Anzel's tent, only to discover that his army is half of what it was. They were needed elsewhere. Soule had been captured by Count Xabier for awhile now, and the duke sent his army ahead and wait for an opportunity to retake it. Turns out we're that oppertunity. The plan is to travel to Soule via the Underdark, there by slipping past the defenses above and entering the city from below. Stealth mission. One of my specialties. Then take out the chain of command. While Xabier's forces are confused, Anzel's army will attack the outer walls. Was wondering when we'd meet the count again. Chances are good Tanis will be there too. After Anzel congratulated us for capturing fort Horse Manure, I pulled him off to the side and told him of the witch Ensa who helped us. And apologized for the fight that happened at the inn. Anzel was surprisingly understanding. Told me not to worry about it. He then introduced us to Lord Jhren. No nonsense military type. He and his team will be accompanying us to Soule. We're going to need all the help we can get, especially in the Underdark. Been to a few under-cities before, and never for long. Eclipse really didn't like going down there. Hanzo and I felt uneasy too. Anyway, We started off toward a nearby cave and made our decent. As I write this, I can't help but feel that we're being watched. Need to keep on our toes.

Traversing the Underdark has been a pain in the ass. If it were not for Tamrell's light, moving down here would be suicide. On the upside, think I made friends with one of Jhren's troops. Her name's Envy. Tifling. Haven't hit on her, but Shagar and Ydris warned her about me. Probably for the best. Surprisingly she didn't care. Joked for awhile about men being pigs. Tried to be friendly with the other troops. Kept giving me the cold shoulder. Whatever. Haven't tried doing that with Jhren. From the moment we met, I knew he likes to keep things professional. Can understand that completely. Me and Ydris are at each others throats. Hit on her once, then saw she doesn't like it. So I stopped. We've been giving each other shit. Seen this before. She's slow to trust people. Smart. I am grateful to my friends for getting me out of my birdcage, But the first few days I kept an eye on them. Luckily my suspicions were right. I had nothing to fear from them. Still… I'll try to smooth things over with Ydris. Don't want her as an enemy. Dealt with magic users before. They are not to be trifled with.

Got to make this one short. We were attacked by Umberhulks along out journey. Most of the team accompanying us was killed. Only Envy and Jhren are the only survives. The rest of our party is ok. I prayed to the gods that the fallen soldiers find peace in the heavens. I wish we could have saved them. Then we were attacked by duargar. We killed them with relative ease. Then we found a halfling spy for Xabier. Tamrell turned into his giant spider form and put the fear of the gods into the bastard. The spy (can't remember his name) told us that there is a resistance in Soule. Good. Might make out job easier. We let the spy go. Something tells me his superiors will kill him for spilling the beans. Side note, Salcifer took the spy's magic boots. Have to admit Im a little jealous. Then we finally made it underneath Soule, where we found an Underdark market. As we stocked up, I found the edge I've been looking for. A drow poison maker named Remorse said she could make me a special poison for a special someone. Interesting name. Better not screw me over. But she seemed to be on the up and up. Besides, I paid a very pretty coin for her service. Heading up top now. Let's hope this'll be a cakewalk. Now I want chocolate cake.

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Capture of Fort Horse Manure
Sywulf's Journal: Entry #7

We were attacked by some kind of ghosts last night. A messenger from mad king Clement was killed. Poor lad. We tried to save him. Didn't work. The northern kingdoms are falling. Burning. We have to stop this.

Anzel sent us ahead of the army. The plan is to capture fort Horse Manure and use it for the army. Our party is to clear it out. The 5 of us against Razzeal, monsters, and other unholy abominations in a cursed fort which itself is in a cursed forest. I like our odds.

We'll be coming up on a small village soon. It's called Broken Hearth. Apparently a witch might be able to help us traverse the cursed forest. Give us protection or something. Still, better be cautious around witches. Hopefully things go smoothly.

Met the witch. Helped us out. Enough said.

Where do I begin. After meeting the witch Esne, we started to make our way through the forest. It appeared normal at first. But then we started to see the corruption in the old woods. The plants, the ground, the water, the air, all wrong. Even the animals. A deer came out of nowhere and was heavily mutated by the dark magic. It spoke, in common. In a panic the poor creature was saying something about the Champion and the Widow. It ran off before any of us got a chance to ask it a question. There was only one thing on my mind. How can we undo this horror?

I snuck into a basement in the first stricture we found and scouted around, only to find some man-eating plant monsters. We were able to dispose of them with relative ease. Further down a hall there was a dire bare in chains. Turns out he was a druid stuck in that form. While my friends worked on getting his shackles off, me and Selsifer heard something making noise in another hall. As we investigated, we found it was a captured demon. It was hate at first sight between me and the thing. Told him to shut up. Stupid bastard was making too much noise. Would have alerted anyone down there. It spoke common. Said it's name was Tox. We talked for a short time. Told me to release him and he would help clear out the fort. But I could see in his eyes that he wanted Selsifer and I dead. Along with everything else in the fort. I thought about setting him free to help us. And when the mission was done, I would kill him before he tried to kill us. Then I heard fighting down back to the druid prisoner. Told Tox I'd think about it and be back after the fight. As I we were fighting a chain devil, Selsifer released Tox to help. I still consider Selsifer my friend, but to say I was not happy to see he released Tox, is a monumental understatement. After the fight, the druid and the parasite known as Tox joined our party for the moment. As we made it outside, we were attacked by some plant creatures and found a hag in a tower. To keep an eye on Tox, I told him to come with me to deal with the hag. Big mistake. After killing the hag, Tox attacked and left me for dead. Survived. When I got to my feet, I tried to look for the asshole and kill him. Turns out he flew away and left us. All that talk about destroying this fort, and he leaves as soon as things get tough. Cowered. Pathetic. Parasite. Reminds me of Jorgen. Couldn't even kill me right. As we were recovering from the fight, we were attacked by archers, We assaulted the other tower and found out there were prisoners here too. A human sorceress named Yedris, and a wood elf monk named Drayos. After we freed them and they joined our quest. We rested for the night. The next morning, we found giant footprints. I was tracking the mysterious creature while my friends were out looking for it themselves. They found it. Bone devil. Shagar obliterated the damn abomination. That's how paladins do it.

After much more exploring, I found a ranger who was being controlled. Guarding a tower. He didn't want to serve Razzeal. Told me to look for some magical source to free him. After finding the sources' and freeing another ranger who joined us. And after we destroyed the magical item's, the controlled ranger was freed. And before he left, warned us of a fiend like no other. And right on cue, the monstrosity burst out of the trees. Half of our group went out to fight the new giant foe. And the others went to clear out the tower. The elven druid was now free of his bare form since we destroyed the items. He summoned a raging storm which shot lightning at the monster. I got to work with my arrows and blades, as did Shagar. Yidres cast spells and Tamrell turned into his new dire-bare form. The damn things tendrils injected acid into my kidneys. And acid splattered on Shagar's face, leaving a big burn mark as the acid ate away at him. By some miracle we all survived. The monster dead. And the next tower cleared.

After a short rest, We had finally made it to Razzeal's part of the fort. I spotted traps on the floor and got to work disarming them. We then found a magic door that led us to the top of the tower. There we confronted the corrupted fey himself. Said he wanted to make us his new friends. We tried to talk him down. That failed. The corruption made him insane. As the fight began, he teleported part of our group of to the Feywild. Only me, Yidres, Wander, and the druid were left to deal with him on our world. We all fought well. I was able to stab him in the heart. He said "This can't be happening!" It was happening. I could see fear in his eyes and heard it in his voice. Good. The one to deal the killing blow was our young bard Wander. He never ceases to amaze. Our friends returned form there fight in the Feywild. Razzeal's last words left me wondering if there was any trace of the old Razzel. Maybe he could have been talked to and saved. I wish that's how it would have gone. I doubt I'll ever know if there was anything left. As we were about to head down, we saw that Anzel's army had just arrived. Fort Horse Manure is ours! And in my experience, it more than lived up to it's name that we gave it.

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Wisdom of an Exiled Killer
Lessons from Hanzo Hattori

"Move like the wind. Graceful and invisible. Quick and cold."

"Be kind to the kind. Be charitable. And enjoy the company of friends. It might be your last time."

"Flow like the water. Constant and changing."

"Have wills of iron. Anything less and you will fail."

"Be bold as a dragon against evil. Find courage in the face of terror. And never surrender."

"Fear is just as much a weapon as our blades. It can make us superhuman. Use when you feel necessary. But never cross the line."

"We are assassins, but that doesn't mean we have to become monsters. Give yourself limits. The limitless become monsters. The limitless will meet their end at the edge of our blades."

"All mortals are created equal. But you two already knew that."

"Be ready to die protecting strangers."

"Never use a civilian as bait to lure out a target. Never get a civilian involved in a mission period."

"When you run out of arrows, use your swords. When your swords dull, use your fists."

"Make no mistake, your mind is the greatest weapon you will ever wield."

"Watch your target like a snake. Take in everything about them, then strike."

"Get as much information on your enemies as possible. Knowledge is power."

"If you seek redemption, you must first have faith in yourself that you can be saved. Then you must do right by others. It will take time, and it will take work. I know this sounds strange form an assassin. But in time, you can find peace. Death is not the only way to redeem oneself."

"We must always work toward justice. But if we can't deliver justice, then we will carry out vengeance."

"The shadows… They can be our greatest ally and enemy. They are better than any armor you wear, and deadlier than any blade man can forge. The three of us were born in the shadows. We will always be one with them. And like the Shadow Dragons from my homeland, we must strike with an unparalleled fierceness."

-Hanzo Hattori

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Record of the Storm Accord

As recorded by Scribe Aitor, in the service of the Duke of Arduinna, Anzel the Bear.

Let it be known that an accord was reached upon this summer day, beneath the light of the sun at its peak, standing before the sacred statues of Torm, Tyr, and Ilmatar. It is the first of its kind, an alliance between the hobgoblin legions of the warlord called Taaric Stormcaller and the noble army assembled by His Grace. The air in the camp is undoubtedly uneasy, but there is hope to be found in this arrangement. The hobgoblins conduct themselves with manners, if not gentility, but their brutish natures will be tempered by His Grace. We are prepared to hold the line against the forces of evil, and so too do the hobgoblins seem eager for a fight.

May this covenant be steadfast in the battle against the darkness.

 

As recorded by Khaar Ghaal Sehn, First Devastator of the Stormcaller's Host.

For the history of the legion, that it may be known by those who follow. We have struck an alliance with the men of Genev. There are some amidst the legion who greatly despise the notion. They have become considerably more quiet since I engulfed the last loudmouth with such flame that he was rendered into ash. Taaric seems satisfied with the arrangement, as am I. If we have learned anything from scrying upon the enemy, it is that the threat grows with every passing day. Soon it will move south, straight at us. We await eagerly for such a peerless test of our own abilities. As Taaric himself said, now we must lay aside our squabbles and turn our whole souls to the greatest task that has been appointed to our nature: War.

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The Lion's Folly

The last fortnight has been but a blur. After delving through the mountains to an ancient dwarven ruin, we came across a strange fish-like creature attempting to give us what we wanted, though we eventually figured out that it was a trap. We managed to deal with it forcefully, and gained possession of a powerful and old polearm that bore the memories of those who had suffered in the ruins. With the weapon in hand, we made our way back to where the wolf had told us we would find the Champion, only to run into a paladin and a ranger who soon joined our growing company. While on the road, we attempted to ambush a small patrol of devils. It was a rough fight for all of us, and after killing one with the polearm, an aura washed over our enemies, sending them running in fear. "You fools!" cried one "We will return for you!" Return they did, but not before our company was able to take purchase on top of a large rocky outcropping. As the cavalry circled like vultures, we took pot shots from our vantage point, doing our best to hold them off from overtaking us. We almost lost a few of our party members, most notably a dragonborn paladin by the name of Shagar. 

It's been many years since I had felt a genuine fear that we would lose a party member so easily, and immediately I began to remember my first campaign as a battle cleric. Death does not frighten me so much as it did then, but the realization of my own mortality is a humbling proposition. 

We pushed forward to the top of the mountain, where we rejoined a member who had journeyed forth with us after our meeting. The dwarf was a boisterous sort, but he seemed well enough. Anyone who is capable enough to hold his own in combat is more than welcome at my side, after all. As the day grew late, we settled down to take our long rest, but before we could complete it, the Barbarian was awoken by the sounds of screaming in the town below. Our paladins and myself all agreed that the best course of action was to, as stealthily as possible, investigate the glow coming from the town below. 

The town was empty, with the exception of the smell of burning flesh and the roaming patrols of half-devils. Once we were found out, I knew it would be a hard push to find out what was going on  in the center of town. It was three long pushes into the town before we finally made it to the center. Dead bodies were piled to the sky, lit aflame and smelling heavy of rot and char. The fetid orange glow illuminated the darkness, exposing the wretched, twisted forms of the corrupted. In the center of the clearing was an altar of sorts with three erected obelisks, and to them were tied Wander, and two females. I could see one that seemed to be the leader of the group and two, possibly three lieutenants. Below them, I saw at least ten grunts, and without hesitating, our party rushed into the fray as the leader initiated some form of ritual to Asmodeus. 

I still remember the teachings of my mentor when I was still a young battle cleric in the service of a nation I can no longer remember. "Young Kava," the old man spoke to me, "in order to fully channel Tempus' blessings, you must clear your mind of all self doubt, only then will be able to uphold the values you have taken upon yourself." As I remembered my teachings, the three tenets of all followers of Tempus rang true: 1) Be fearless, 2) never run from battle, and 3) always follow the rules of warfare. As such, I charged forward as the dwarven barbarian fell over. I did not shirk as I wielded the spear in my hands, striking with a flurry of blows guided by Tempus, the foe-hammer. As the blade struck the third time, a piercing wail that could peel the paint from my sigil echoed across the area, sending a handful of the devils running for the hills. I helped get the Jotum up, the dwarf thanking me as I used the last of my spells to help him follow the tenets of my faith, a task that even unknowingly he followed to the end. I watched as he flanked around the side and Borris  charged in on his trusty mount. to interrupt the ritual. Never had I been so honored to fight among valiant warriors. I watched as the leader faltered and the ritual was interrupted, cheering as the paladin stood his ground. As the foes began to retreat, I pressed forward, striking at yet another and dropping them. Several more fell this way. 

In the heat of battle, I failed to notice that a new cleric had entered the fray along with another paladin and an accompaniment of rangers. The chaos that ensued only served for me to take even more advantage of the disorganization. I was struck multiple times, but they failed to down me as I pushed my way through their ranks. I turned back to see Bob, our human barbarian bursting through the pile of burning bodies. However, I quickly realized my usefulness was limited now that my spells had been burned leading up to this critical moment.

I looked up just in time to see Jotum walking up behind the leader as he was preoccupied with Borris. A resounding crack and a cry erupted as the barbarian clipped the leader's legs out from underneath, then cleaved him in two. As happy as I was to see this, the battle was not yet over, and so I kept pushing forward, trying to make my way to the altar to save my allies. Unfortunately I was not able to save them in time. As we began to think the fight lost, Shagar burst from the side alley and ruined one of the lieutenants, only to try and save the other paladin, who had been with the slaves. Unfortunately, the fighting leading up to this moment had grievously wounded him and made him susceptible to a precision strike. In my rage, I lashed out again, killing yet another of the devil-spawn and causing many to flee. As the remnants scattered, I stood over the dead bodies, victorious. But, as the haze of battle subsided, I quickly realized that this victory came with a heavy toll. Our warlock and the monk were missing in action, while both barbarians and two of our paladins were dead. 

In that moment of lucidity, I prayed for Tempus to guide the souls who had fallen in battle, that they may find proper repose. Over the next hour, the few of us that remained would divide our goods up among ourselves, and I would send a message to the other party, informing them of the party's critical condition. Memories flashed in my mind of the first battle, standing over my mentor's crippled body after he had slain a company of soldiers on his own. I had been unable to protect them as I had been unable to protect him, and so their deaths are my burden to  bear. No regrets, ever forward.  

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Battle at Aldhall
Victory, at a cost...

From the journal of Kairon Wander:

I don't know where to begin. Gods. Boris and Jotum.

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