Saturdays of Slaughter

Observations by the Townfolk of the mad fool Donnathan

While the air is heavy with importance, I, Simon a local tavern keeper have not been able to pry much information as to why the increased regimentation of the guard, they are quiet and I have noticed a number of riders lightly provisioned to hast them have set upon the road. Unfortunately with their departure many of my frequent clients were snatched up to form a work crew to prepare what was only described as accommodations for guests. That Grey elf the lord lets run the town always talks down to us so.

With my free time I am left to my own ends, and I have taken to watching the curious traveling companion of the Lord, the strange short hairy man, who seems to no longer be in control of his own senses. I first noticed him in the morning as he stood outside my tavern and kicked at the dirt bending every once and a while at the waist to pick something up, and place it into a small pouch on his belt. After a while I began to think that he was acting the part of a chicken seeking out bugs. Had I had a customer I would have paid him no attention but since he seemed unaware that I was observing him I decided to follow him when he left. He walk down the road to a carpenter’s shop where he picked up a small pile of tiny cage, they were not even a hands breadth in any one of their dimensions. Upon collecting his cages he ventured to the shade of a near-by tree and sat down slowly opening each cage and depositing bugs and sticks and dirt into each one, which I presume what what he collected in front of my tavern. After filling the cages, he took them and wondered about the town stopping every once and a while and hanging the cages from the branches of trees. Well they were to be hung too high for his reach so he produced a squirrel from his garments who carried the cage up into the tree and affixed it with a small bit of string. While the squirrel was doing this the man saw another commoner approach one of the cages previously hung. How that crazy small man yelled and shouted, you would have thought it similar to how a mother shouts warnings to a young child reaching for the cooking pot.

Later that day I saw that small man his hands full of large milky white leaves, returning to the carpenter’s shop where he procured several wooden planks, the lot of which he took and returned to the garden of the Lord Aeron. When he entered the garden he staked the boards together in a neat pile with the leaves placed in between and atop it all he placed several large rocks, so as to flatten out the leaves.

I later overheard him mumbling to himself in a vexed manner. He said,
“Fire elelmental home,
Drier lemon mantel stone,
tired lemming rattles bones.

I must seek the land of Fire
to gather the source of my Desire.
To travel afar I must prepare,
I’ll gather up my underwear
Two rituals to procure
of this i am very sure
I must create a sigil portal
to help the travels of this mortal
And travel to other planes
must become within my reins"

The man then ran off with all the speed I think that he could muster, to go to the town hall where I assume he met with the steward and the lord’s magician traveling companion.

By now the day was growing old and I decided I sure return to my work, as following this man around would certainly only lead me into the lunacy that affects him. In closing I can only hope that the Lord Aeron is unaffected by this fevered mind.

The Waiting Game
Aeron's Journal

The 19th day of Tarsakh in the Year of Risen Elfkin

I hate to wait. I am a man of action, not indolence. Yet, I have no choice. The letters have been dispatched, and there is nothing for it. The Steel Regent will reply as she sees fit, when she sees fit. Under any other circumstance there would not be a problem. Hadarai would be more than capable of dealing with her Lady’s response. But no. This time, I must be here to personally respond. With news of this magnitude it simply would not do to be elsewhere, lest the Steel Regent herself—or worse, the Royal Mage—choose to investigate this matter personally.

I think worse than the mere waiting, is the waiting without end. I know not when, or if, a response will come. Yet here I must remain until it does, or until a reasonable amount of time has passed and it can be safely assumed that no response will be forthcoming. It is my fervent hope that this news that I have sent will bring worth an immediate response, but perhaps I am overestimating the significance of my discovery. As abhorrent as it may be, I will consign myself to wait as long as it takes. By the combined crotches of all Beshaba’s chosen, I don’t want to spend the Melting in my manor.

And, oh!, the political consequences. How am I supposed to prepare for whomever it is that will arrive? If I set out a grand affair fit for the King and only a minor court member arrives, how much more grand will I have to strive to make my Lands appear should another, more important than the first, arrive later? Conversely, should I prepare for a minor functionary and instead the Steel Regent or Mage Royal arrive, how then will I appear? It is maddening. I feel caught between the desert and the dragon—literally.

As if all of this isn’t enough, the remaining Cormaerils have begun to inquire as to when they will receive their portion of Tilverton’s revenue. Even though Branyonne was only distantly related to what is left of his despicable house, it seems that they have subsumed his title, given very graciously and posthumously by the Steel Regent, for their own devices. Despite having everything stripped from them by King Azoun for their treachery, they still consider themselves above the “common” people of the realm; they still grasp for the finer things that they had taken.

How it must goad them that Branyonne disavowed himself of them. They deserve nothing that my companion, short-lived though our relationship may have been, so righteously earned, and they will not pry anything from me. Their honeyed words fall on uncaring ears. Should anyone of them set foot within my lands, they will be put to death as the King should have done, for unlike his Majesty I have no need of mercy where these traitors are concerned. May Branyonne’s soul forever rest in peace, and may he smile benevolently upon my handling of his disgraced relatives.

Combative Consort

Say I, your lithe and slender frame is built
For fencing wi' deftly dancing, grappling grace.
As I you see, forthwith you grasp my hilt,
And then reveal your grand golden palace.

Along with me you spar. Long through the night
Is panting, wheezing, labored breathing heard.
As my great blade I thrust, you take the bite.
Now groaning with exhaustion undeterred.

My stiff foil you cannot break. E'en though
you tried with all your might. And so, too soon
You've dropped your guard; you've giv'n your final blow.
You flee and I'm left standing here marooned.

You are departed, so do I bequeath
My sword, well placed, in someone else's sheathe.

- Bryhar the Ribald
Year of the Ormserpent
Poison for the Lady
Aeron's Journal

The 17th day of Tarsakh in the Year of Risen Elfkin

Thusly begins my ascent to perfection; the first of the gods has fallen. Not even an avatar of Talona, the so called “Mother of All Plagues”, was capable of standing against me. Let Cyric see this and tremble; let his fear grow inexorably as I effortlessly put to the sword one powerful being after another on my relentless course to mount his head upon my mantle. Nothing he can throw my way can stop me. Or even slow me down.

I will not be waylaid by trifles and pittances, as I see even the gods in the heavens. My power will grow exponentially with each divine that I skewer upon my blade. And then, when his fear is palpable and incarnate, I will march upon the Prince of Lies, and I will take great pleasure as each step brings a quiver to his immortal bones. Then I will take the Mad God’s life, power and very being for my own. The fool should never have crossed me.

There is a young elf from Myth Drannor
Who acts in a dubious manner
For her shirts don't quite fit
And her skirts poorly split
So men work themselves to a lather

- Author Unknown
Testing the Waters
Aeron's Journal

The 17th day of Tarsakh in the Year of Risen Elfkin

Today I travel into the mines to an ancient Netherese city that Mikas tells me was named Asuarini. After sleeping I feel well rested in spite of my dark reflections—or perhaps because of them. All that I am certain of is that I feel recharged, ready to face whatever this ancient city might have in store. The thought that I might meet some shadovar or phaerimm while on this journey has the blood coursing through my veins. Being inside of a monument to the hubris of the gods should also help with Sir Marren’s constant attempts to convert me to his religion. All I need do is point at the structures surrounding us to show him what happens when deities are killed, the fact that they can be killed proving that they are unworthy of worship.

What an odd city this is. We entered into some form of library, yet the layout of the building does not conform to any architectural form with which I am familiar, seeming random and inefficient. I suppose that the netherese who would have used this structure must have had their own logic for the design, one that would no doubt be inextricably linked to their dependence upon magic, but it is a logic that escapes me. Perhaps if I ever were to become so decadent and so dependent upon a force granted by a fickle god I would, but for now I simply don’t understand. All I can see around me is a testament to over reliance on things outside of oneself. The ego is the only thing that upon which one can truly depend, and around me is stunning proof of this conviction.

I wonder how Mikas feels while we look around this structure. Is this the sort of thing that he aspires to? Does he hope that his magic will one day allow him to performs such feats? I certainly hope not. If he were to “master” the art of making cities fly, he would no doubt wish to try it out on Tilverton, but that is something that I simply could not allow. How could I claim to be a proper knight and keeper of the realm, if I let hedgewizards try to lift my city into the sky? I would pray to the watching gods that he does not do this thing, but that would do little good. They would no doubt send tutors to train him in these magics, that they might spite me for being their equal. Yet more proof of the foolishness of the “divine”.

I can see outside in the street that the everburning torches still light the boulevards, and there is clear evidence in the condition of the books and woodwork that some magic yet lingers here. Considering the origin of such magics, I find it safest to assume that the city’s mythallar must still be functioning, at least in part. I would not have believed that it would be possible for a mythallar to remain functional after Karsus’s Folly, at least before the return of Shade. Now, however, I am not so certain. I think that it is best that we proceed to the center of the city to find it, or what’s left of it. Perhaps we can find a way to adapt it to our purposes, although I know not what we would do with such a device.

It seemed that the footprints that we had seen in the library were not simply the last remnants of this cities inhabitants. Several hounds, turned into blightbeasts by some horrible curse, found us in the streets as we made our way toward the city center. None of my companions seemed to have any great knowledge of the creatures, at least none that they were willing to share. Perhaps it would be best if someone looked into this phenomenon when we return. It simply would not do to bring a plague upon my citizens, especially a plague that turns them into creatures that would attack those not yet turned. I do not feel any ill effects from these creatures, nor from the surrounding area, but that does not mean that my companions and I are not carriers. We must remember to use more caution going forward.

Finally we have approached the tower at the city’s center, although once inside I’m afraid I have no insight as to where to go. Where might they keep the mythallar? If I had such a magical device, I would keep it locked behind the strongest doors that I could find, but I do not claim to understand the logic of the people who built this place. Would they have put it lower in the building, as to grant the most protection? Or would they put it higher in the building, in a show of ostentation and pretense? Perhaps Mikas or Sir Marren will have more insight. They are trained in the more traditional magical arts than I. If they don’t know, then perhaps Donnathon can speak with his spirits and get us an answer, but then again, I’m not entirely certain how trustworthy any information from him would be at the moment.

Donnathon seems to be behaving more bizarrely than usual today. I am hesitant to condemn his madness outright, however. Last time he began having such “insights” granted by the spirits—spirits that I don’t entirely believe exist—the portended great events. Is that what is happening now? Do these so-called spirits sense what is to come, and are therefore all clamoring for Donnathon’s attention at once, leading to this apparent overload that the man is suffering? Or is he simply losing what little of his mind these spirits have not already taken? I don’t really know, and I suppose that it doesn’t matter. His presence here is necessary, and, assuming that he can make sense of it all, the insights that he usually derives from these communions is normally helpful.

I suppose that it matters not whether we know where we are going once inside of this tower. No doubt, we will find what we seek eventually, even if we have to scour the entire thing from top to bottom. We must be wary as we search, however. There is no telling how many more of those blightbeasts are roaming the halls. They may not pose a threat when we are ready to face them in battle, but if they were to take us unawares would we still be as bold? I’d rather not find out. Thankfully, my weapon is always at hand, as is Mikas’, and Cliff and Marren have weapons to large to properly stow. I don’t even know if Duhdum would be capable of drawing his weapons again if he were to strap them to himself; I’ve never seen him do it anyway. And Donnathon, well I just don’t think that anything is capable of sneaking up on that man.

Enmity Forevermore

A man of grace, his ears a slender point
He stands defender of the people proud,
And massive beast who by the hordes anointed
With razor tusks who stands about the crowd.

The man and beast, two age old foes they are.
Their peoples, one and all, each other hate.
These two, embodiments more so by far,
And so the titans clash upon this date.

The man, his sword of silver tightly clutched,
Defends against the great beast's pitted axe.
They spend their all having ne'er giv'n so much;
The battle ends there are no more attacks.

The beast defeated by the man most spry.
An orb now lost, he sees with naught one eye.

- Lynnaer Treefriend
Year of Failed Daggers
Marren's Private Journal III

17 Tarsakh 1375

All affairs are in order. My men guard the entrance to the ancient city, my magics ensuring that no villains enter behind us to steal what is mine. My companions and I dive deep into a city not seen in 10,000 years.

17 Tarsakh 1375

Dogs. These vile, plague-bearing undead dogs do not compare to the purebred stock I raise in New Tilverton. No matter; they barely slow us down as we approach the city’s center.

17 Tarsakh 1375

I can feel it. It is here. Helm’s might flows through my blade; how can twelve undead knights hope to compare to that power? Moments after bursting through the door, a pile of bodies lie at my feet.

Shadows Wrought within a Darkened Speculum
Aeron's Journal

The 17th day of Tarsakh in the Year of Risen Elfkin

My house still sleeps around me, yet I find myself here, in my garden, staring into the depths of this dark pool, wondering toward what end my life now moves. Is this folly, this dimication with powerful Cyric and his powerless minions? Is it destiny, having been preordained in days long since faded by a power greater still than that of the gods themselves? Do I have a choice in the direction I now travel? Or is my course transfixed in its current direction, unable to move or bend?

So many questions transfix the veils of my conscious mind, all churning and tangling one with another, driving deeper into deray a fracturing and foundering psyche; events transgress against my person, thrusting themselves into the course of daily existence—unwanted, unneeded, unwelcome—drawing along times uncertain, thereby enslaving my very being to impeding moira; people transpose themselves into my seity, malevolently mutilating all that I am, was or could be, impelling my quiddity inexorably toward certain damnation; ad infinitum. How am I to bear up under it?

Yet bear up I must. I have not the time for self-doubt, recriminations, regrets of situations unalterable. These things, interlopers all, must be banished from my mind, condemned to nonexistence. Hereupon I must act without acknowledging the dissenting voices in my very soul; to do so would be tantamount to commissioning my own destruction, marshaling my own decimation. I shall adjudicate my own fortunes, setting my course as if the very winds were mind to command. Nevermore shall I wonder at what impetus I act, what unseen hand guides me onward. If delusion this be, than be this my delusion.

First, the reaffirmation of my hatred for Cyric. I hate the mad god. None compel me. None persuade me. I hate. To this end, I will away this very night, to find a crafter most inscrutable, that this person might, with utmost discretion, create for me a weapon most pernicious. I have heard tales of a Crescent Blade that can sever the head from any neck, and although this thing is lost, the secret of how to craft its like must remain. Any idea once formed can be formed again, and this blade with its deicidal properties must be mine.

What would my family say if they could see me now, ruler of a frontier village, designer of a plot to kill a god? Am I still the presumptuous and arrogant child that they last saw? The child that they derided and chafed at? Or am I greater? Something wholly unrecognizable to them? When last we spoke, my father took from me my inheritance, casting me out of his house and denying my parentage. My chosen life of frivolity met not with the expectations that a Hill Elder had of his son. Are my goals now so frivolous? Would killing a god meet with my father’s approval? I am delighted to discover that for the first time in nearly 20 years, I don’t care. No longer do I need or desire the approval of my family. For the first time since my exile, I am well and truly free.

Yet might I be willing to quit it all and return to my father’s house for one more chance to be with her? I know not. Not a day has perished that I have not thought of her—longingly, achingly. I blame not the Kaliesh’erai for keeping us apart. To risk the displeasure of a Hill Elder, to defy his direct edict would be folly. I only wish that she had not been so enamored with her work. Perhaps the road would have been less amiable to her projects than the Kaliesh’erai’s basement laboratories, but we could have been together. Surely our combined talents could have surpassed those of our individuality. And now, with all of the resources at my command, could I not build her a facility to rival that where she worked?

Loviatar’s caress, it matter’s not. Those revanchist phaerimm and the whoreson shadovar saw to that. I know not which of the two to hate more, those that attacked fair Evereska or those who came claiming to be her allies before confining her citizens with her enemies. The fiends took from me my father, who can no longer look upon my works and judge, and my love, whose sweet laughter I shall never again attend. Should either ever enter into my presence I shall grant them no quarter. My blade will be the last thing they see, hopefully moments before the point enters through their eye. I will brook not one out of the whole race life. For the sins of the few the many must perish.

If Tymora smiles, I will have chance to meet with members of either race in the coming days. With the discovery of the long buried Netherese city I have been given great opportunity. Both the phaerimm and shadovar would love a chance to investigate such a discovery, and I truly hope that they have made it. Perhaps, as I explore the dusty corridors of the once vaunted city I will find them there, ripe for the picking. Then may I take vengeance for gentle Mythria. Oh, how the pain that I will visit upon them before I end their miserable existence will make them weep for the fate of their entire race and regret having ever taken the life of my beloved. The greatest mistake that either of these two peoples could ever make is not angering the surrounding nations, engendering a the wrath of powerful peoples, or raping nearby lands and conquering her peoples; no, the worst mistake they can make is provoking my acrimony. This they have done; this they will pay for.

The hour grows late—or is it early?—and soon I must to bed. Oh, gods forfend the need for rulers, that I might keep mine own counsel, not to have others looking to me for guidance and seeking from me answers and resolutions to all of their questions and problems. Alas, until that time it seems that my days are to be filled with the obligations of governance. Were it not for this damnable sense of responsibility instilled in me by my father, in spite of my great efforts to drive it forcefully from my soul, I do not have it within me to demit this lordship and return to being a common sellsword. It seems that I am a prisoner of my own upbringing after all.

Which reminds me; I need to send an acceptance to Lady Lord Lhal’s invitation to the Midsummer Festival in Arabel. It has been many years indeed since the last time I attended such a gala affair. I remember the joy that it used to bring me in my youth, or rather, the joy derived from chasing young lasses around the dance floor. It seems that I have likely grown too jaded, my heart too broken, to partake of the festivities in the same debonair manner which I used to employ at those youthful revelries in days gone by. But perhaps I’ll chance upon a way to once again bring forth that spirit of frivolity. If nothing else those with power in the realm will be in attendance. Perhaps it is time—past time—to throw myself into my new role as Lord of Tilverton and Knight of the Realm.

Tomorrow is another day, and with it comes new challenges. As is my custom I will rise to the occasion, proving to all who gaze upon me why I am a man to be feared. May even the gods tremble at my approach and proffer themselves on bended knee.

Love Remembered Lost

The Sun, alone, from heaven shines down bright,
While through grey skies in darkness glides the Moon.
With face half hid he dares reflect her light.
The two, a pair, like none before commune.

What started sweet and soft becomes a flood,
Where each without the other dares not live,
Their love a contract signed in bright red blood,
Quick beating hearts no longer their's to give.

The Stars above look down upon the two,
To see th moon without light of his own.
For them such laxness simply will not do,
And so they cast him from his heav'nly home.

But now the Sun no longer here resides.
Upon her grave LastHome's villians deride.

- Aeron Mindreaver
The Year of Rogue Dragons
Marren's Journal II

16 Tarsakh 1375

Encountered magical mist. Most surely of vile design. I feel trapped inside my armor. Reminds me of coffin. Reminds me of my wife. Must banish thoughts to continue into the woods.

16 Tarsakh 1375

Encountered cultists – with summoned demons – trying to clear woods of spider vermin. It was tactically sound to engage the demons in the rear while they were engaged by the spiders, which was against the suggestion of the Lord of Tilverton. My success in this campaign proved flawless, hopefully endearing myself better to my commander.

16 Tarsakh 1375

The Lord’s devout anti-divine sentiment worries me. We may draw wrath of the servants of a god we can not destroy, unlike the small nest of Cyric’s worshipers we located and removed in the Spiderhaunt Woods. Sent two companies to begin construction of fort near forest.

Evidence found in their wicked lab points to greater conspiracy brewing in the greater Dalelands. I was about to order a full military movement against the supposed location of said cabal, but reports returned to me from my men that we found an abandoned Netherese city under site of New Tilverton. This may be location of what I seek. Feigned disinterest; sent men out to scout for the Cabalists, but they – the Cultists – can wait. Tomorrow we delve into the ancient city. I am positive Helm brought me here, at this moment, for this reason.

In addition, reports from members of the Royal Scouts prove promising in city; no unrest has been detected. Yet. But I am sure it is there.

Eighteen men sent to recooperate in Arabel. Expect replacements in a tenday.

End of report.

Addendum: Two more horses of our scouts had to be put down, bringing total to six, due to carnivorous tendencies. Am afraid something is afoot. Must look into situation.

Lancing the Boil
Aeron's Journal

The 16th day of Tarsakh in the Year of Risen Elfkin

A strange mist surrounds us, thick and dark. I can feel the evil within it, taste it as the foul moisture forces it’s way into mouth, smell it as it wends its way up my nose. It contains within its foul bosom a seed of madness, cloying, desperate, pathetic. This fog has the loathsome fetor of the puppet god dripping from it. Even as it invades my mind I can feel its weakness.

What is this? Superstition? What a quaint trait your followers have given me, oh Great Saecing Praed. The weakness of your followers and their spells is amusing. Lasta lalaithamin. I hope when I come to ram my blade down your gullet, that you have more strength than these contemptible lackeys. Only in your weakness can you steal the glory from conquest over you; only by stealing the challenge from my ascension can you ever hope to lay me low.

Shunting the meager curse with which I have been afflicted to the back of my consciousness, my companions and I travel farther down the path, deeper into the Spiderhaunt Wood, the gossamer webs that string from tree to tree growing thicker the closer we draw to the center of the forest. I can see sweat beginning to bead on Marrin’s brow as the nearly membranous filaments draw more tightly around us, the Cyricist’s fog having induced claustrophobia in him, yet he pushes on heedless, the Dark Sun’s power unable to hold sway within him for long. Darkness begins to close around us, even seeming to drive back the light from the everburning torch Mikas carries, making its light appear dim and wan. If we do not reach our destination soon, perhaps this maddening forest will succeed where Cyric’s followers have failed.

Around the bend we hear noise, the sounds of battle. The unmistakable keening of fiendish voices fills the air around us, along with the screeching of dieing spiders. What need demons have attacking spiders I know not, but the presence of those from the endless pit does not bode well for the forest. For my part, however, the sounds of those foul beasts brings joy into my heart; only those of Cyric would bother to bring such beings here to kill simple arachnids, and I relish the chance to lay low more of the Mad God’s servants. Their blood shall stain my sword. Or perhaps I’ll find the way to turn their “pets” against them. Would not that be sweet poetry?

Turning the corner, the scene before us is much as I had imagined. Two cultist’s stand behind a tetrad of demon’s (as if they’d be capable of fighting for themselves, Nadorhuan) in an assault on a trio of spiders, an ettercap lending aid from the rear. I see no need to interfere, at least not yet; it will be amusing to watch this battle play out, and perhaps we can learn something of the demon’s abilities. Alas, it is not to be. Merrin and Cliff, their blades not having tasted blood for at least a quarter candle, see fit to rush the unsuspecting cultists, hoping to catch them off guard, sanguinary brutes, and so, to battle.

As I have so often thought, it seems that Cyric truly has nothing with which to challenge us. First, the two men and their cadre of mad dragons, elementary; then, two more men and a quartet of demons, effortless; last, four more cultists and their undead leader, paltry. Is this the best a so-called god can do? A skeletal overseer and a placid plague? I stand now over the corpse of his latest “Chosen”, and I am not impressed. The creature barely had the strength to rise after the first series of blows rang into its emaciated frame. I had truly hoped for better.

Marren has found letters left by the cultists, that seem to speak of a larger plot afoot. They tell of a greater cabal to the east, in High Dale, near the Twosword’s Bridge along the Thunder Way. Is it possible that these incompetents here were not the true threat? Is Cyric cunning enough to have planted these so close to my doorstep that I would become distracted rooting out their foulness, and not see the greater threat in the east? Somehow I doubt it, yet I never underestimate an enemy. When we return to Tilverton, I will have Marren send a scout to investigate. If this was a ruse, then is it not also possible that the information I hold, so easily uncovered, is in reality a second deception? This bears thought. In the end, however, no number of feints can keep me from my destiny. Cyric will struggle for his final breath, my hands wrapped firmly around his divine throat. This I vow.

The Triumphant Return
Aeron's Journal

The 15th day of Tarsakh in the Year of Risen Elfkin

This is the first entry in my new journal. It seems unfortunate that, having survived harrowing battles against fearsome monsters and treacherous journeys across perilous terrain, my former journal would fall from our carriage and be lost in the vast desert while we flew through something that Mikas referred to as turbulence; an event that displaying the fickleness of fate, and proving just how powerless the so called gods are. Thankfully, even without the written account of my travels, I still have my memories of the events that I have endured, as well as the friends that I have lost; no mere turbulence can take such from me. All that shall suffer is the chronicle I plan to order penned, that my name shall be remembered for all time, for I certainly do not have the time to recompose my lost manuscript at this time. Perhaps in the future, should I manage to survive to an old age and retire to my manor, forsaking the life of danger that I now flourish in, I will take the time to commit my memories once again to parchment, thusly providing a written account from which the delineation of my life may then be authored.

I, along with my companions, returned to Tilverton today, having defeated the Shadovar and laid low their nefarious plans, in the midst of the usual triumphant fanfare, to which I have become inured. Do they not understand that do these things not for their praise and felicitations, but for my own needs, as a means of raising my estimation in my own eyes and proving my worth to none but myself? Can they not see that I bear up under the hardship of ruling this backwater border town, not to provide them with the benefit of the wisdom of my years, but at the Steel Regent’s royal decree? Is it truly so difficult for them to understand that I am little different from they? That I desire things, first and foremost, for myself before others? Or perhaps the reason for their frippery is less about celebrating my successes, and simply about the celebration? Is it possible that living in the hardships of frontier life has made for a people so needful of cause to revel that they will latch onto anything? Even me?

I digress. As is my custom, upon my return I retired to the arboretum, wherein I was given the usual report by Hadarai, informing me of the events that had transpired during my two tenday absence. Oh how I wish that Alusair had seen fit to appoint Hadarai as lord instead of me, or that Grageon had not left on his quest of knowledge or whatever nonsense he spouted before leaving me to rule this place on my own. If only Lythar and Van hadn’t lost their lives during our return from the Plane of Shadow. Anything to alleviate the insipidity of the task of running this fief. Thankfully Hadarai is efficient and intelligent, well suited for his duties indeed. Making just enough decisions to keep the city running smoothly, without doing anything that could be construed as attempting to usurp my authority. Oh, how I wish the man were more ambitious.

Following the steward’s reports, I was introduced to Sir Marren Hart, Knight Commander of the Purple Dragons. The Lionar seems very capable. Already he has begun construction on fortifications along the North Ride, allowing for better protection of our trade caravans as they travel south from the Dales. He admits openly to a calculating and efficient nature. Though his zealous execution of his duties might seem to be ruthless to those of lesser disposition, I can see it for what it really is, a deliberate, incisive response. If more people could as easily cut through the shades of grey to the heart of the matter, and have the testicular magnitude to do what needs to be done, this world wouldn’t need gods or kings.

While speaking with Lionar Marren, a Blade stumbled into the room, slathering and spouting madness. He spoke of a “skull wreathed in purple flames”, no doubt a reference to that upstart Cyric, the so-called “Prince of Three Crowns”, as well as spiders and a path of fire rending through gossamer webs. The man was clearly mad. Marren was distraught by his appearance as well, and not simply out of concern for his man, but because this was one of the men that had been dispatched to the Spider Haunt Woods mere days before, a man who should not yet have returned. Lunatic prophecies aside, any reference to that liar among liars is an ill omen. I thought that I had put that part of my life behind me, but it seems that the Black Sun wants to go another round. The fool always was a glutton for punishment.

Within moments of delivering his mad oracle the Blade collapsed to the floor. Out of concern for the soldier, Lionar Marren had the man transported to the Temple of Helm. My concern lies more in the stains that might be left upon my paving stones than the health of any man who would dredge up the unpleasant memories that the name of that blasphemer of blasphemers invokes. No matter the differing reasons for the man’s removal and subsequent tending my the Helmites, there was clearly something amiss in the Spider Haunt Woods. A search for witnesses brought in three people who claimed to have seen these abductions for themselves, Boti, Myrra Iansten and Zira Thellier. Their testimonies were full of much useful and relevant information, I am sure, but I found myself to distracted to listen, so upsetting was the reference to the most hated of all the gods. Mikas even had information regarding the plot at hand, even going so far as to invoke the name of his missing sister, although that name has lost its effect since her inexplicable absence from the drow stronghold beneath the Twisted Tower was discovered.

Cliff, Duhdum and Donnathon, have agreed to accompany Mikas, the Lionar and myself on our investigation of these strange and disturbing disappearances. I am loathe to admit it aloud, but I welcome the opportunity to slay more of the Mad God’s followers. I truly hope that for every one of his followers that I bleed out upon the forest floor, he feels pain, and that over the course of a thousand such deaths he will be tormented as if pricked by a thousand needles. This shall be the announcement of my coming, for now that he has riled me yet again, now that he once more has my attention, I intend to seek him out and slay him. I will have Cyric’s head upon my wall before I draw my last.

The 16th day of Tarsakh in the Year of Risen Elfkin

The day is still young, yet already my hands are stained crimson with blood. It seems that this is my destiny, to take the lives of others and speed them along their paths to whatever gods to whom they bend their knees. Sir Marren was careful with his blade as he danced with those formally under his command, now turned raving mad men, striking to incapacitate rather than to kill. I have no such compunction. The man fool enough to stand between me and my intended quarry bore the full brunt of my anger, losing an eye, the back of his skull and all between in the process. Even the deranged should know to fear me; I am death, swift and sure.

Their were two whose eyes gleamed with intelligence and lucidity, clearly the orchestrators of the madness around me, who stood in the back, enjoying the protection that their all to willing shields provided. Cowards! Do they not have the courage to face me? Would they fear for their lives should their shield fall? They should. They did. I could see the fear in their eyes as we broke through the bulwark of maniacal men, and stalked them like cornered hares. I could even smell the urine trickling down the leg of the last, as he broke into a run and left his fallen companion behind. Although I did not manage to take their lives with my own hands, I relished every moment as Cliff, the instrument of my reckoning, laid them low. His axe driving through flesh and stealing the light from their eyes.

The two proudly displayed their allegiance in badges upon their chests, holy symbols to the Prince of Lies, as if the power of their mad god could protect them from my wrath. Fools! Those tin markers were not protection, they were targets, a focus for my boiling rage. They were not capable of turning aside my blade, or those of my fellows, as we chopped into their ragged flesh again and again, tearing strips of meat from their bones. They do not defend the men now, as they prop open the mouths of their former bearers. They, along with the heads in which they reside, stand upon shafts at the entrance to this passage, staked their as a warning and promise to all who pass of what shall happen to all those half-witted enough to follow a similar path. I hope that the god of those men takes them to be with him in his realm, so that when I march there radiant in my power and terrible to behold in my fury, they can tremble in fear, and despair as I slay their god.

Our rest is almost over. It is time to rise and kill again. Perhaps I have been in this life to long. Perhaps I myself have gone a little mad. I look forward to the coming battle. I relish the chance to bring pain and death to the servants of my enemy. With every stooge I slay, Cyric’s fear of me grows. I can already feel his heart quicken, a low thrumming in the fabric of the universe that will soon reach a high pitched whine. Soon, very soon, I shall prove just how much he has to fear.

Marren's Journal

Marren’s Journal

11 Ches, 1375

Arrived in New Tilverton to assume post. Suspect treasonous plot. Sent Alonius, Frakes, and Drewe to uncover plot. Expect success. Location scouting for Fort of the Gap successful; construction will begin promptly.

13 Tarsakh, 1375

Lost contact with engineering patrol scouting for the Woodsfort; 15 dead, including two engineers. Sent courier to Suzail for replacements. Will be organizing a rescue effort quickly. No word on infiltrators yet. Expect results soon. Work on tactical re-adjustment of street layout is progressing admirably.

15 Tarsakh, 137

Lord Aeron returned to New Tilverton today. Pageboy Joseph misunderstood message he delivered to me, and was whipped half a dozen times for it. Discussed missing minors; made joke. It went over well. Yeoman Tiberious came in crazed; was subdued, brought to High Priest Normin of the Temple of Helm. Expected to make full recovery. The Lord wished to interview several merchants who had knowledge of people going missing. Learned that the Prince of Lies is involved, along with many spiders. Must remember to pack antivenom when we fly there tomorrow.

16 Tarsakh 1377

Recovered all of my of missing men, save two who died as results of combat – Recruits Belinor and Daweson. A true loss. I will send a letter to their families and include one platinum scale each. Two Cyrician cultists were slain, and their heads mounted outside of the forest. We are preparing to head inside the forest to eliminate the rest of the cult.

+1,400 GP
-20 GP for ‘dearly regret’ letters.


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