The Guild City

Petros - Journal 3

Petros looks at the temple entrance. A small group of people from the temple had gone into town and worked to heal the sick. Petros had worked alongside them, casting cantrips, mixing herbs, and magically identifying a difficult disease. He’d been on similar excursions with his family, but this time was a lot nicer. There was less time spent talking about Dolora’s mercy and more time spent healing the sick. Reyland had infused the whole effort with kindness and practicality.

Petros walks into the temple.He heads for the saltwater pool in the back. He kneels and looks at the water. He’s never prayed before. Not for real.

He grabs the sacrifical components and he lays them out before the salwater pool. He hopes this works – these components cost quite a bit of money. “Goddess, accept this humble sacrifice and answer my plea.” He speaks in Cantash – “Dolora, my tempest, my savior and storm bringer, your humble servant kneels before you. I have -”. He pauses. . “O Goddess, I am entrusted with a difficult burden and an uncertain future. There has been tragic…”. Petros continues for quite some time, fumbling to articulate himself in the stilted and formal language of Cantari ritual.

No response.

“I’ll just talk to her”, he thinks. “Dolora, Goddess. I don’t know what to do. I’ve been branded with the symbol of another goddess. They tell me that it’s tied to my existence and I don’t know what that means. I’ve picked up a wand from a temple to the goddess of slaughter and I used it in battle. I don’t know what that might’ve done to me. I was kidnapped! Take the sacrifice. I need your help.”

Petros keeps talking to Dolora, telling her everything about what happened. He shares his fear and his doubt. For an hour he just lets thoughts come to his mind and tries to have a one sided conversation with this distant partner. “What do you know about Lyssa?”, he thinks at the end. “What about this brand? What can I do?”

No response.

“Well shit,” he thinks. What does he know of Dolora? What reminds him of her? What angle can he take?

When Petros thinks of Dolora he thinks of Alec, 7 years old, standing outside in the rain. “I AM THE STORM!”, Alec yells, and Petros giggles. “Yes you are! You’re my little tempest!”, his father replies.

When Petros thinks of Dolora he thinks of his mother, talking to the three of them on the second floor of the grand temple of Tragodia. “You’re going to be wonderful. You’re going to help your father do some very important things for Dolora today. Go out there and make me proud!”

When Petros thinks of Dolora he thinks of his father. His father has a smorgasbord of expensive components in front of him. With grand gestures and fancy language, the components are sacrificed. They vanish in a bang and a flash and his father assures the audience that Dolora is pleased.

He thinks about Ia. “How’s she doing? How’s her morning going?”

“Focus! Try the rituals.” Methodically, Petros moves his arms and hands through the gestures of every spell he knows. He does the same for all the advanced spells he’s seen the clergy cast. He copies the sweeping gestures of the ceremonies at the grand temple. He copies the smaller gestures of prayer he’s seen from the common folk visitng the temple. He makes swimming motions. He moves his arms and his hands in every way he can think of. He does this for an hour before he starts to feel very, very silly.

No response.

He thinks about every lesson he had growing up, remembering the 23 reasons Dolora chased the moon, the boring stories about her exploits, the tales of how she made sailors vanish. For what feels like forever, he combs through every memory he has of Dolora, desperately looking for the one detail that will get her to answer.

No response.

Petros stares at the saltwater pool in front of him. Fish wander around it. The surface of the water bobs up and down. The water reflects light onto the pillars and the statue. He drops his holy symbol in. “Look, it floats”, he thinks. Is that because of the consecration rituals? He takes the shell out of the water before anyone can notice.

Petros gazes at the water. He loses track of time watching the fish swim and the water flow. How long does he sit there? Minutes? Hours? “This is pointless”, he thinks.He stands up and turns to leave and hears a soft plop.

His wand of bless has fallen into the salt water pool. The wood turns a seafoam green and he sees vague flashes in the pool of water.

Hooded figures with different holy symbols slit throats above altars. Thia’s blade cuts down a screaming robed man as he drops the wand Petros now carries. A pile of ashes are stared over by a pale woman with golden eyes. The ashes form vaguely into the shape of a human body right as the woman lifts her face and seems to stare directly at Petros.

The water ripples and the images fade. The wand floats harmlessly in the water, now seafoam green with swirls carved into the base. It looks much more basic in design than before.

As Petros picks it up he hears a whisper so quiet he almost misses it.

“Faith means nothing with empty intent. Gestures of true belief need not be extravagant.”

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Excerpt from the Diary of Reynard _Savior of Daybrook_
Session 3

As we approached Daybrook, we espied a broken cart on the road. The man said he had been robbed because the caravan guards, the two Onyx Viper members we were looking for, had stayed in town. liar liar The thieves have stolen a gem that wasn’t meant for Myra de la Fleur. I convinced the team to head out to recover the gem immediately as I was not about to risk having Myra angry at us. We quickly caught up to the thieves and Vindis put them to sleep. We tied them up and found out they were the real caravan leaders. good thing we didn’t attack them, that could have gone much worse When we got back to the cart the liar was gone.

Having solved that, we continued to Daybrook, caravan in tow. The town was small, quaint, and in the middle of some fertility festival. Everyone was quite randy, so much so that we were propositioned almost immediately. even me and usually I only get hit on by fetishists Regardless, we had a job to do so we went to see the mayor. He welcomed us and offered his secretary to show us around. they were both a little creepy

As we were shown around, we became more and more suspicious that the town was under some sort of enchantment. a sex enchantment? is that a thing? do people use magic for that? I should look into that We found Sara (one of the Vipers we were searching for) but she insisted on staying to participate in the festival. We found Karim (the other Viper) who was quite distraught because everyone was ignoring him. weird considering how friendly every had been so far

After asking a few questions, we discovered a new statue in and old temple in town and went to investigate. Vindis discovered that the statue and the gem we found earlier were infecting the town with some sort of magic. This is when the secretary, a Shou called Jin, was a secret agent working against the mayor, who was behind the plot called it! Basically the mayor was a minor devil who had replaced the real mayor and Jin was helping but secretly not but wouldn’t tell who she was really working for then asked us to look in to it cause the devil was becoming suspicious of her. need to edit this sentence

We returned to the mayors office and after some excellent investigating by me by the group, we discovered enough clues to find the dead mayor and a secret door. turns out they mayor and the devil were into some perverted stuff The secret door brought us to a secret room, in which stood Eudora, the devil we sought. She had minions with her and offered us a deal in exchange for us not attacking her. I don’t even remember what she offered it was so lame Needless to say a fight ensued.

As the fight began, Rotbane vibrated and I knew that Eudora must be the heretic she had asked me to kill. I fared well during the fight because I was out of range of, taking down a few minions before heading turning on Eudora. During the fight Sabiya, Ariyra, and Petros all fell (unconscious, not dead) to Eudora spells, the last cast knocking her out as well. It seems she powered her spells via self-harm and overexerted herself. seems a foolish way to do magic, doesn’t seem worth it

At the end stood just Vindis, Sara, and I (we had left Karim behind to watch the caravaners). So to pay for her crimes and to repay Rotbane, I finished her off. I wish I had been able to do it in battle,. it would have aroused less suspicion it would have less unappealing. As I ran her through, Rotbane drank her blood. Both Sara and Vindis were concerned about this and my my actions to say the least. I must say I was too.

Killing Eudora ended the spell afflicting the town. She had been powering it by a Incubus she had captured within the gem, who was her uncle. does that make her a succubus? she was some kind of devil for sure Apparently he owned a brothel in Asha and wants to reward us for saving him! another heroic deed for the books So town saved we returned with Sara, Karim, Guant, and the caravan and got paid for our first successful job. Additionally I got a nice magic amulet we picked up from Eudora.

This job gave me a lot to think on. It did affirm that I can do this. I am capable of being a hero, which I must admit is very relieving. I know I still have a long ways to go, so I’ll try not to get to full of myself. Heck! We haven’t even proven our worth enough for Senf to take us on the mission to the Green Marsh. But I feel like I’ve grown stronger, more ready to face what comes next.

Second, I’m a little worried about Rotbane. I didn’t really have a choice making a pact with her, but I’m scared I’m in over my head. She revealed her true form to me, a small, dark skinned child with black hair that was white at the tips. Clearly she’s not a child, so why does she appear as one? I feel uneasy about her. I mean she did ask me to kill someone as a favor. Sure they did turn out to be a bad guy, woman as it were but will the next one be? So far our goals have aligned, but will that continue? Sara and Vindis do wish to speak to me about what they saw. I think I might tell them everything. Maybe they won’t be too appalled and maybe even be able to help. I’m not sure I can do this alone.

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Ariyra - Journal 1

In their room at the Onyx Vipers

Ariyra jumps onto the bed with a contented sigh. Humming, they begin to take off their day clothes. Most of the rest of their things had been brought up and put away earlier, and Guano was still roosting up in the corner. Once they are all set for sleep, they grab their staff, and tap the orb of water on top. An identical orb of water situated in the branches of Silopei’s tree alerted her to Ariyra’s call. While Ariyra waited for Silopei to get back to her tree, they collected their thoughts on the eventful day.

“Ariyra, my little Leafling, it is good to see your face.”

Hearing Silopei’s voice, Ariyra focuses on the orb, smiling when they see the beautiful fae. Ariyra takes a moment to admire their lover. Her eyes like the deep brown of fertile earth, skin as smooth yet firm as the wood underneath the bark, and hair that was a beautiful shade of green. “Silopei, you look stunning as always, but you won’t believe the day I just had.”

Tilting her head intrigued, she said “Please, do tell.”

“Right, well I hope you are comfortable, cause this might take a while.” Ariyra settles in to tell their tale. “I had rented a room at an inn called The Greystone keep and offered to heal the other guests to help pay for it. Only one person took me up on my offer, but when we got to his room, I was knocked unconscious.” Silopei looked worried, and seemed about to interrupt, “Hey, don’t worry Sil, I’m fine now as you can see. Besides, it gets worse before it gets better.”

Still looking troubled, she commented “Somehow that doesn’t fill me with confidence. Honestly, you need to learn to be less trusting when someone says they need help with an injury. But I suppose I’ll let you finish before I yell at you.”

“Yeah, yeah I know. But seriously, that wasn’t even the worst of it. Anyway, when I woke up, I was chained in a room with five other people. A human named Thia who is an asshole, but we’ll get to that, a cute humanoid fox named Reynard, a tiefling named Petros, a half-elf named Vindis, and a Genasi named Sabiya, though we didn’t actually learn those two’s names until we were being interrogated by the town guard. The chains must have been really weak or something though, cause everyone broke out of theirs without too much trouble. Once we got out of the dungeon room though, Thia tried to stab Reynard in the back and then ran through a wall.”

Silopei looked incredulous, “How does one run through a wall?”

“How should I know, plus we didn’t have any time to investigate since we were immediately attacked by … um, things. I’m not actually sure what they were, but we defeated them pretty quickly. Everyone was a little hurt so I made some berries. Petros almost refused them, but I talked him into eating them,” Silopei started giggling at that and Ariyra started blushing, “hey, what’re you laughing at?” She just shook her head and motioned for them to continue. “Hmph. Well after that, we got lost in some hallways and triggered a few traps. Eventually we made it to a strange room with no walls and five doors, none of which led back to where we had just come from. We learned later that this was the start of The Gauntlet, and was some sort of trial for the mad god Lyssa. Vindis went through his door first and got through with relative ease. I went next, and well, it wasn’t the most pleasant thing in the world. I was surrounded by a dead forest. As I moved forward, I wanted to try and fix even just some of it, but I had this vague feeling that if I stopped something bad would happen to me. I did make it out though, and Petros and Reynard made it through as well. But poor Sabiya, she was caught by the monster chasing her, and we weren’t sure if she was even still alive until she fell out looking exhausted and haggard. But I did get something for my troubles!” Jumping off their bed, Ariyra quickly grabs the staff they got at the end of their trial. “This staff has a permanent Shillelagh spell on it. I can’t wait to show Heinorin, and then I can rub it in his face. This’ll show him; telling me Druidcraft and mending are useless cantrips.”

“My little Leafling, stop pouting, it doesn’t suit you. Though I am glad I didn’t witness this dead forest you speak of. That sounds too horrible to imagine.” Taking a moment to gather herself, Silopei then asks “So how do the city guards come into this? It sounds like you got out without too much trouble.”

“Oh, we weren’t out yet. After we completed the last room we had to fight Thia. It was tough, and we won, but Reynard was hurt pretty badly. Good thing I was able to stabilize him. Once I did though, everyone was put to sleep, or well, everyone but Vindis. Apparently, some weird lady came and talked to him for a couple minutes. When they were done talking we were all somehow transported to the basement of the inn I was taken from. When we got upstairs, we were immediately taken in for questioning by the Guard Captain, Taras Rylen. It was for something along the lines of connections to cult activity. Honestly, all we had to do though was tell her who we are, where our current residence was, and for those of us who weren’t Asha citizens, what we were doing in the city. We got dismissed and all left to do our own things. I was finally able to follow that lead that got me in Asha in the first place. I asked around about Senf Volemin at the College of Asha. This cute Halfling girl named Lulabelle told me I would probably find him at the Onyx Vipers, one of the fighting guilds. When I got there I found out that he would be out of the city for a couple of days. Luckily, I met the most intriguing Tiefling woman named Nameia, who works for the Vipers. I guess she liked my sass, cause she convinced them to let me stay there in exchange for me helping and healing the more beat-up members. Heck, they even paid me.”

Once Ariyra got through explaining the fight with Thia, Silopei settled down, closing her eyes, now just enjoying the sound of their voice as much as she was paying attention to what they said. As they mentioned their meeting with Nameia though, she perked up. “I can understand where this Teifling is coming from,” suddenly gaining a sultry smile, she continued, “I am rather fond of that mouth of yours as well.” She immediately starts giggling as Ariyra’s face erupts in a blush.

“Sil, don’t joke like that, I’m sure she was just being friendly. Hmm, now that you mention it though, she was rather attractive. You know what; if she does start flirting with me, I’ll have you meet her one of these nights, see what you think of her. How’s that sound?”

“Lovely Ariyra, very lovely indeed.”

After a few more minutes of discussion, Ariyra called it a night and set their staff aside, and had a relatively peaceful sleep.
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Journal 2 - Vindis Florel
The Dulldrums of Pursuit

Research. Such a trifling thing, sometimes.

Vindis sighed softly, looking down to the book in his cross-legged lap, a finger absently flipping to a fresh page before looking in front of him into the dirt, a complex (and very theoretical) series of magical formulae meticulously detailed in a visual form… Err, a magic circle, in layman’s terms. Looking to the thing, he bit at his lower lip, the muddied dead wood in his hand rhythmically tapping against the makeshift workspace.

“… It’s all wrong.”

The words relented, emerging in a soft tired sigh. Working in such conditions was trying, but, perhaps the tedium of this particular ‘theorem’ seemed to do naught but bring him closer to a proverbial madness. He slowly wrenched his head back to his sleeping circumstantial ‘companions’, his eye falling particularly on the sleeping Genasi before he brought his hands to his temples, fingers gently kneading at the creeping veil of numbness.

Well, perhaps not madness, but it certainly wasn’t doing anything for this headache.

These last few days had certainly given him quite a tenacious one; A dull throbbing, a trite thing to be sure, but unique in that it always seemed to sink just beneath the conscious level, maintaining the countenance of a textbook written by a crotchety man with skill in the written word comparable to an agrarian Shou: intensely painful, but at the same time so… dull that you immediately forget its existence not three pages in.

He paused for a moment and squinted his eyes.

That metaphor broke down somewhere in the middle. He shook his head. This was becoming all too common a theme.

“Regardless.” He murmured, “I will break you.”

Raising a hand next to the little stick, he pondered for a moment; his watch would certainly be ending soon. He might as well try this theory before they moved on.

Exhaling softly, he jerked his left hand in a variety of motions, going through the motions of something far too needlessly obtuse for practical application, murmuring lines of near meaningless vitriol before casting the spell.

There was a fizzle.

Then a spark.

His eyes widened.

“…”

His smirk coloured his face in a delectable shadow.

”Well then.”

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Exeprt for the Diary of Reynard _Onyx Viper_
Session 2

So we were brought to the guard headquarters for questioning. turns out being interrogated is kinda boring We just told our stories and Taras released us. we were the victims after all Vindis did most of the talking, but he’s not so good with people. He’s fairly aggressive. Maybe I should teach him how to persuade and lie It was afterwards that things got interesting.

First I was invited back to Taras’ house. The Dragon of Asha wanted to get to know me! The second was that we were all invited to visit the temple of Seiya by the high priestess the next morning. I guess the marks made us pretty popular. already gaining fame, just as planned

So Taras took me to a shop called Infernals, where I met her wife, Myra de la Fleur. This was a powerful, scary sexy woman. HOLY SHIT I had heard the name de la Fleur before, but I was frightened to bring it up. Turns out I wasn’t invited over for dinner rude but because Taras was worried about the source of my magic. Myra examined it and found it to not be evil, much to my relief as I had already astutely discerned. After that they all but sent me away, but were kind enough to give me a voucher for a room in a nice inn.

A lot happened the next day. We all met at the temple of Seiya. The high priestess, Mei Lin, turned out was some sort of voyer pervert seer and had brought us in to tell us she couldn’t help with the brands. that could have been done in a letter She did tell us of a healer in the Green Marshes and a potential mission to the same planned by the mercenary company, the Onyx Vipers. Next thing I know we head over to their headquarters, join up, and are sent on a mission! they certainly move fast So off we went to Daybrook to find a caravan and two guild members to bring back.

That night, Rotbane spoke to me again. She had her first favor for me. exciting She asked me to kill a heretic, who I would know when I found them. worrying Now I’m no stranger to violence and death, but being asked to kill someone directly put me on edge. Who was this person? Did their crime deserve death as a punishment? Either way I was indebted to Rotbane and would at least try to do as she asked. With a name like ‘The Heretic’, they’re bound to be bad. And I have no qualms about putting downs villains. I’m sure it’s fine

I seem to have been pulled into something much bigger then I planned with this whole brand thing. And now I’m in a fighter company? None of this was the plan. Of course my plan never went much further than ‘gain power’ which in retrospect is more of a goal. I know the others think I’m naive and foolhardy, and I’m starting to think I might be. I just got to Asha and I’m in over my head. Some mysterious force is giving me power in exchange for killing people? That doesn’t seem very heroic. Maybe I do have some more growing up to do.

Either way there’s no going back now. I’m marked by Lyssa and in deep to Rotbane and nothing is gonna change that. My only option os to keep moving forward and keep my chin up. That’s been the status quo since I’ve left Argent. Someday, when I am the hero I aspire to be, I’ll be able too look back. I just hope I make it that far.

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Sabiya - Journal 2

The last couple of days were certainly interesting. It all began in the Dungeon and the meeting of these three other figures. A berry addict, a reckless fox and a preaching Tiefling. An odd mixture of personalities.

Sabiya sighed and looked up into the night sky, to her it remained a beautiful sight. A sight that helped to sort thoughts, thinking about the last 24 hours. They had an audience with the High Priestess of Asha. A woman that basically had the ability to stalk people in her dream. A small smirk formed on the lips of the Genasi.

She better had enjoyed this show.

Did they gather any information about the marks? No. And such a woman is calling herself ‘High Priestess’.
Instead all they got is the information about some healer in the swamps and a flyer from a guild.

Funny, we never really had a choice since we woke up in the Dungeon.

That was at least what she assumed. No one had a single idea about what could happen to them if they don’t treat these marks. Death, getting consumed by madness, the urge to slaughter. All these were possibilities and certainly would suit the Goddess.
They had no choice but to join the guild and meet this healer. But of course, they had to do some other silly task beforehand.

And that’s the current situation they are in. Finding some missing merchant and two members of the guild, should be easy. So far it was, no problems while they were travelling and right now they are near the road camping.

She had the first shift of the night watch. A dagger was in her hands, idly playing around with the blade. Nothing unusual happened, means she had no need to… protect… the rest of the group. Protect seemed to be such a strong word, it almost implied that she cared about them. While she knew Vindis and considered him as a trustworthy person, someone to care for. The rest were acquaintances at best. None of them seemed to be backstabber, they are all too open with who they are to be in that category. But letting the guard down was not an option for her. She eyed each of the companions.

Reynard, short Rey, a kitsune that yearns to be a hero. Ambitious, enthusiastic and reckless. In her opinion he is only at the beginning of becoming a hero and there is a lot for him to learn. That leads to her conclusion that he lacks experience. But maybe he could achieve his goal, who knows. To her there was already improvement.

Petros, a Tiefling… priest, cleric, member of a cult? She wasn’t sure at all what his profession was but he seemed to care about the markings. Asking Vindis for information in the flower
shop was proof enough. Otherwise she hadn’t really talked to him at all.

Or to anyone.

Ariyra a halfling, a tiny one. The occupation was unclear, could be a druid or just a lonely hermit. She hadn’t talked to this person at all means it was the most unknown member of the group. On the bright side Ariyra had contacts with the guild they joined.
Sabiya furrowed her brows, screw the word acquaintances, they are indeed strangers. Yet, she should make sure no one is going to end up as a backstabber. Maybe striking a few conversations would be wise. Turning them from strangers to acquaintances. Not to get attached but to make sure that she’ll not end up dead by the hand of one of these.
Without making a noise she got up, her shift was over. The dagger moved from her hand to her belt, not wanting to send a wrong message as she approached Reynard. Reaching down, she gently shook his shoulder.

“It’s your turn… Reynard.”

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Petros 2

Petros sat on the ground, his watch close to ending. He was happy. The last two days had been a whirlwind of dire magics, strange lands, and dark prophecies. It was invigorating.

Ariyra came to relieve him of his watch. Ariyra was direct and competent. They compared quite favorably to the occasional aloof druid he had met back on the isles.

His mind turned to each of his companions . Reynard’s enthusiasm was infectious. He was reckless and earnest and quite likable. Besides, the way he had effortlessly disarmed Thia and stolen her sword was quite impressive. The fox had skill.

Vindis, well, Vindis was arrogant, intelligent, controlled, passionate. Vindis shared little of himself, yet he demanded answers from the people he met. He was prideful, but not too arrogant to turn down help when Petros visited his flower shop. Petros found himself liking the man, despite his secrets, despite his arrogance, and despite the dangers Vindis might present.

And what of Vindis’ companion? Sabiya? She was an unknown. She might also be dangerous. He had barely been able to follow her movements during the trial of stealth. She had an almost unnatural grace and was clearly skilled with a blade. He resolved to keep an eye on her. He was normally quite good at finding hidden things, but he knew that if she decided to stab him in the back he’d be lucky to escape alive.

Still he was content. He fell asleep with a smile on his face. As he slept, he dreamed.

He was on the boat from Tragodia. He was finishing up the ritual of departure, asking Dolora’s mercy for the voyage ahead. The sea was calm, a slightly darker shade of pink than normal. The sky was an extra beautiful yellow today, and the ocean breeze smelled wonderfully of rabbits.

In his room, he smiled at his shield. He had always liked the whirlpool symbol of Dolora. His eyes followed the bloody swirls to the crimson center as they’d done a thousand times before. He took out his scythe and tapped it absentmindedly against the floor. Wielding a weapon was a skill that had not come easily to him, and he worked hard to maintain it. As he swung the scythe in swift, practiced motions, he thought of home.

Petros glided through the pink waters of his homeland. He caught up to Agapios, splashed him, briefly traced a hand over the muscles of his arm. Petros took a deep breath and dived. He went further, further, further down. The water parted for him – it was as easy as falling from the sky. His lungs ached for air. He felt as if he would burst, and still he dived. He dived until all was dark.

Petros woke refreshed. He eyed his shield, propped up next to his armor. His eyes traced the blue, green, and white swirls of the symbol of Dolora as they had a thousand times before. He thought he could smell the sea, and a brief image of the crystal blue waters of home flitted through his mind. With a laugh, he took out his rations and got ready for the new day.

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The First Warning
In the Temple of Lyssa

The ashes melded, swirling on the cracked stone floor. There is no breeze, but are carried by a strange force. They dace together, sometimes into the shape of a body. A few yards away the click of short heels approach.

A young man with golden hair and glowing blue eyes dressed in fine silk stares at the swirling ashes. The cracked floor of Lyssa’s temple echoes his steps. He sighs and shakes his head.

“Always about sacrifice isn’t it?” He catches the ring pierced in his lip between his teeth. He gives a small laugh. “What’s the point of one that just undoes itself though? Can either of you answer that?”

He outright cackles shaking his head. “Neither of you were ever big on logic though were you? Emotional fools.” He turns his back fading away slowly. “See you soon…Thia.”

He vanishes from the room as the ashes slowly form into a uniform mound, and keep their shape without dispersing.

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Sabiya - Journal 1

The hollow sounds of footsteps echoed through the empty room followed by the rustling sound of fabrics. The woman stepped forward, examining herself in the mirror. The bare skin unharmed, wounds of previous fights healed only the bag under her eyes remained. The proof that she went through hell and back, on her own she would have thought this all was just a nightmare.

Nightmare, huh?

Her fingertips stroking over the new gained branding, the burning sensation still tingling on the skin. Right how could she forget that this was imprinted on her? The symbol represented a scythe, the possible marking from the Goddess of madness. Fingernails dug deep into the pale flesh, scratching the new gained branding, leaving a trail of blood running down her right shoulder. The pain was sharp but nothing unbearable, in fact it felt good. The nails and fingertips coloured in a dark red shade. With a sigh, the stripped-down clothes were picked up, the former bare skin covered up. A wave of exhaustion washed over her, but it wasn’t time to rest. She told Vindis to catch up, so it was time to leave. Besides her prior attempt of resting failed. Maybe she should have asked for sleeping herbs from Miss A’Donna.

Yet whenever her eyes were shut the living nightmare returned, over and over the scene played in her head, she could smell sickening sweet smell of rotten flesh, feel the breath and saliva against her skin. The features of the monstrosity of a beast crystal clear in front of her inner eye. Remembering the moment, the monster had a hold of her send shivers down her spine. Besides the feeling of personal failure followed her as well.

Come on, stop thinking about this.

The woman furiously shook her head as if it could throw out the memories out of her head. Quickly she left the house, the thought of being alone now was unbearable. Earlier he told her where to find him. Yet the people in the streets, the happy chattering, it all was too much. In fact, she got sick of it, of all the people here in Asha. It was strange that she felt like this, maybe strange was the wrong word. It was more than unusual for her to hate being around people. The travel through the streets went by quick, it seemed like she was in a hurry. The woman slowed down once the library was in sight, she reached the destination, from now on it shouldn’t be as stressful. While entering the building, a pale looking figure came towards her, a staff clenched in his hand. His facial features were tensed, as if he tried his best not to freak out. She pondered if something happened here, it wasn’t a daily thing that people came out of a library terrified. Then again, he was here, anything could have happened and judging by his curious nature… Sabiya sighed and walked upstairs, the place was surprisingly empty. Were the people of Asha not interested in some more education?

The upper floor was full of shelves but there was no sight of him, on further inspection there was a separated room, no hall, a sign declared this as the studying hall. Almost inaudibly she went inside, the word hall was suiting this place perfectly. Maybe a hundred people could come in here and study if they would wish, but there was only a single individual in here. A slim figure with blonde hair, bent over a tomb, reading. It wasn’t the smartest idea to disturb the reading wizard. Therefore, she moved to a seat nearby, but not in the line of sight, sitting down in the chair. For a while she watched him, his expression had serious features, furrowed brows, a constant frown, sometimes his lips moved, mumbling to himself. Absorbing the knowledge, the books had to offer. As the time passed by the exhaustion and tiredness caught up to her. It was impossible for her to stay awake any longer.
____

Everything went black and as she ‘woke’, she found herself in a room with pillars. Her hands became sweaty. She knew exactly where she was. Moans came from the center of the room, a gross smelly beast, stitched up at various parts was guarding a door.
Back again. Back in that room. The heartbeat of hers increased in a painfully way. Her chest felt tight as if it was about to burst.
Without realising she was moving, her own body betrayed her. From one pillar behind the next. The Beast clearly aware of it send out a scream and the moans came closer.
Trapped, that is what she was and once again she moved on her own only to be caught by it. Fists slamming into the flesh of the beast, it won’t end like the last time. It cannot end like before. The stitched-up face only inches away from her own. The sickening smell, the breath, the pain where the monster grabbed her harshly. It all felt real. The monster opened it’s mouth widely, a twisted tongue licking her cheek before it began to devour her.
Being devoured felt painless, yet she tried to scream… but nothing. Not a single word escaped her lips. Instead there was this feeling. A sensation that never was there before. Her lungs empty of all air. Is that what people call suffocating? How can she, an Air Genasi, suffocate? With all of her might she tried to breathe, her surroundings vanishing, turning black. Was she becoming unconscious? Or was she dying. Soon everything was dark.
____

Abruptly she woke up, gasping for air. It was all… a dream, a nightmare. Her heart was racing, her hands and feet felt like they were tingling. A thin layer of sweat formed on her forehead. She had to do something against these nightmares. She couldn’t shake off the feeling that she was losing it. Touching her cheek gave away that she had been crying, wet streaks marked both of her cheeks.
Suddenly the words spoken by the half-elf were ringing in her ears. With a turn of her head she looked at him, her expression bewildered. Her throat felt hoarse, her voice quiet, lacking emotions. Clearly the aftereffects of the nightmare haven’t worn off yet. Cleary this evening she had to ask for herbs, or anything else that would put her to rest.
“I… do not think so.”

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Chronicles of an Irritable Man #1
The Brand.

The coals glowed a bright cherry red amidst the gentle darkness of the room, embers ushered slowly amidst gentle prodding by a small iron rod. The man sat reclined in the red velvet chair, his shirt barely hanging off of features distended by a gaunt demeanor. Placing two fingers on his face he furrowed his brow before playing with the hilt of the long knife against the grate, turning it over before returning the hand to the padded armchair, his fingers curling underneath, the tips white with the frustrated pressure exerted against the fabric.

Flaring open, he raised his hand in a fist moving to slam against the wood of the chair, his eyes two orbs of fury before he found himself stopping mid swing, the effort just absent as he sighed. Leaning forward he buried his head in his hands. He had been defeated. Soundly. This… God of Madness was not worth an inch of her salt. Even now, the brand seemed to pulse against his chest, a wicked reminder of that very failure and the simple knowledge that, despite the fact that he did not know how, he would die. He would die horribly.

That thought, strangely, did not bring him much discomfort- No, not at all. On the contrary, death was the last thing he feared. It was an inevitability, life the very means to that end. But this, no… This was humiliation. Worst yet, despite every word exchanged with that disgusting bitch, he hadn’t come even an inch closer to any kind of understanding. He felt like he could kill, his rage (a surprising thing, even to him) burned up inside him and threatened to taint his every thought before the inevitable rush of calm returned to him in an endless cycle between emotion and logic, a battle he did not often have to fight.

”I’m ready.” He said, standing up as he turned to the healer next to him, primed with a staff.

No, let that thought burn in hellfire.

He practically tore off his shirt, exposing his bare chest, exposing the intricate set of tattoos that ran up his forearm in an artful infrequency, as well as the burning cancer on his center.

Reaching up to his mouth, he placed the leather in between his teeth biting down hard as
the foul taste of the leather filled his mouth.

He would not be beaten by that. Not so easily. Not now.

Reaching out he grabbed the knife and brought the sufficiently heated edge up to just hanging in front of him, the eyes of the healer telegraphing his extreme disapproval at the actions of this seemingly unhinged man.

“I may try to pass out. Don’t you dare let me. The second I am finished, work quickly.” He said, before closing his eyes as he brought the heated length close to his skin.

This would be his win.

With that, he cut into his flesh. The excruciating pain made him wince and scream into the leather as the knife quickly sheared off the brand, leaving only a semi-burnt wound in its place, gushing a horrible amount of blood down his torso. With only moments to spare as the world flashed white before him, the pain soon receded as the healer knitted the flesh and nerve back together as it should be, leaving only the small river of blood on his fair skin.
Tossing the bloodied knife back onto the table next to the tiny forge, he sighed, “Thank you.” He said, reaching over to the singed flesh to confirm what he perhaps already knew… And found himself surprised. Looking down at the flesh, it was as if he had never cut it. The flesh in his hand… It was simply gone.

Falling back into his chair, he tossed the knife off to one side, he put his head in his hand.

This had just gotten so much harder. The healer looked to him, his eyes widened with disbelief before he just sighed, “Your services will not be needed.” He turned up, “Thank you, though.”

What could he possibly do about this? That level of magic… Such a thickly layered thing…
Would a Greater Restoration fix this?

He cocked his head, “Perhaps, dying would be the answer…” He mused allowed, only further spooking the healer who was collecting his things, “Oh, I’m sorry. I mean, uhm~ metaphorically of course.” No he didn’t. The healer wasn’t buying it either, but left without another word, leaving him alone in the study hall.

It was an intriguing thought. Technically speaking, all the curse required was to die after all. A simple death and resurrection would… Be horribly taxing. No, that had to be a last resort. Besides, as good as resurrection magic was, gaining the allegiance of someone willing to cast a variant powerful enough to definitely break something like this would be challenging- Not to mention the fact that, well, what if that wasn’t enough?

What if, perchance, it was bound to the body itself? Well, then a new body would have to be made- A sub par body. He had an idea of the spell required but he had no idea where to find someone capable of such a thing. He was positive Necromancy would have another answer but… That would be even harder.

Then another terrifying thought occurred to him.

What if it was bound to the soul?

There was no mention of it, and as far as he knew the god has no domain over such things, but if that was the case…

He would be dead.

He softly smirked to himself.

Well, unless he became a lich. He surmised that would solve all of the problems.
But enough with fantasy. What would solve this? This route wasn’t working. He needed information, and he was in exactly the place to do it. Throwing on a shirt, he quickly went about the library, gathering any piece of occult knowledge that he could get his hands on, not only about curses, but at least three tombs on dark gods and legends, one particularly about Lyssa.

Hours passed as the man slaved away over the tomes, taking scattered notes at whatever scraps of information he could grasp before finally again crashing into the chair behind him. All of his digging had amounted in only a few scraps of the barest pieces of information.
Reaching into the bag to his side, he gently pulled from it the scroll, looking into the map as the story of this troubled god seemed to rhythmically dance in his head. The thought of following such a pathetic path… It was troubling.

Unfortunately, it seemed this path, conveniently in such a parallel, would have to be his only option- Well, not his only option. He leaned back, looking to the Genasi he was vaguely aware had arrived at one point or another, “… I don’t suppose your Mistress would spare us a wish, hm?”

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