Part 46: Rush

Day of Burning Sun, Inalis

Everyone has gone home for the evening, so we heroes (or Heroes? Should I capitalize that?) sat around our table to discuss some of our affairs for the next few days. We have approximately two or three days before Aminatou’s people finish preparations on the Gjallarhorn. We have a few tasks to attend to while we wait. The most obvious and most pressing is finding Demitri and finding out what information he has for us. Further, Shadow wants to meet again with the Lady of Coins and had me send her a mental message. Lastly and probably less important on our list is for me to revisit the black market and see if that scary elvish woman has anything for me.

While talking about the Lady of Coins, I thought up a brilliant little prank to play. We asked ourselves, “How does the Lady of Coins get in contact with people?” And I remembered the story that Mother used to tell us when we were children, about the burning of teeth. As the story goes, the priests would collect the lost teeth of children from underneath their pillows and burn them so that we, the children, would have long and prosperous lives. Well, changeling children do not lose their teeth so I used to cry about it. You always left your teeth under my pillow. But that bothered us as the caretaker of the orphanage never visited us because… well… I’m a changeling. So I just had a collection of your teeth. Wow, this sounds very macabre. Anyway, when I learned how to produce fire with my magic, we burned all the teeth. Mother had us do a little ceremony and everything!

So, Heath, here’s the prank: I am certainly not going to put teeth under Shadow’s pillow, but I will put a few coins there instead. It’ll be so funny! I’ll write more in the morning!

10 to Verdant Sun, Inalis

I have made a terrible mistake. Shadow didn’t get the joke. Clio chided me for it, and I guess she’s right. Shadow immediately panicked and started waking up the entire estate, calling us to arms. Clio and Briar slept outside where Shadow has been sleeping, and they immediately armed themselves, looking for a fight. Shadow literally dragged me out of my room while I was doing my prayers, pulling on my cloak and choking me a little. Torag was mumbling something crude because he hadn’t woken up just yet. Rendu was awake already but was wearing a mud mask (so that’s how his skin looks like marble!) and was bothered about being interrupted. Actaeon and the Oracle had been together last night and I never really saw Shadow blush as much as when he came out of their room. I believe he may have seen a little more skin than he wanted to see. Vaevictus woke up briefly, said a few adult words, then fell asleep again immediately. Ilharg and Pholon, I think, never actually went to sleep at all and neither were terribly bothered by Shadow’s antics. Corinna had taken Triple out on a walk and missed the show entirely.

I confessed my prank to Shadow amid laughs, but no one else was laughing. Well, I think I saw Briar smirk. Shadow just sighed and went off to the temple district. Clio suggested to me that the joke didn’t land very well. Shadow is already very unpleasant when he’s scared or bothered, and perhaps I went too far. I mean, I’m not going to stop playing pranks though. We need a little levity. We’re trying to save a nation.

But yes, I’m going to apologize to Shadow. In fact, I’ll even let him keep the coins!

Our affairs in town took only about an hour this morning. Briar went with me to the black markets to make sure I was safe, and to make sure I didn’t spend any extra money. Clio is in charge of the group money and told me I was not allowed to spend anything extra today. We need the funds for other things. The creepy elvish woman sold me my new magical component pouch and tried to sell me a wand that I couldn’t afford. Briar thought it was very shady for her to sell such an exquisite wand anyway, and we feared it was likely stolen and the original owner would be looking for it. Everyone else got their tasks accomplished, too, and we set out just before midday.

We had to purchase a chariot to get us to the Obsidian Sierras as fast as possible. Actaeon and Triple pulled the chariot that Torag and I rode. Briar ran with Clio on her back, and Pholon did the same with Rendu on his. Shadow rode his mount, Jungle Princess, and brought Giannis with him. Ilharg and Corinna stayed behind to help with Gjallarhorn preparations.

Writing on a chariot is hard work and I’ve made many errors. I’ll write more when we settle down.

10 to Verdant Sun, Inalis

Oh goodness, we’ve really done it now! If the League of Storms was not sworn to be our enemy, it surely will be after tonight. We found them in the Adonian Canyon of the Sierras just as the sun was beginning to set. Briar scouted ahead first with a hawk and informed us that many soldiers were here. Rendu and I disguised ourselves as League soldiers so we could freely talk with the two guards at the entrance of the canyon. So as to not draw unwanted suspicion, we tied up Clio and Torag as “prisoners” using some manacles that Actaeon always seems to have available (which I magically cleaned, just in case Actaeon and the Oracle use something like that in their bedroom for married couple things never mind). Clio played it very cool and cute by trying to distract one of the guards while Rendu spoke with them, lying that we were bringing in captives to Captain Jorges. They expressed their confusion at our “orders”, saying that anyone here was to be killed on sight, including the traitor Demitri.

While Rendu did that, I peeked around the corner to see what I could do. Briar had shapeshifted into the form of a small lizard and went scampering through the canyon to find a place to wait for our call to action. I knew what I had to do as I drew out my wand and the sulfur Mother gave me. While I don’t like hurting people or killing, I’ve come to understand that sometimes bad things happen and I have to fight. There’s a scripture that says it is better for a few to perish than for a nation to burn. Ellandyr must be saved, and these men have cast their lots in with a god of chaos and ruthlessness. Their only goal is to bring ruin to people. I cannot abide that, though it haunts me.

We heroes quickly dispatched the two guards while I threw down come cover fire at the soldiers around the corner. Shadow and Clio came around the corner next and began attacking. One soldier tried to blow a horn of alarm, but Torag slew him pretty fast. Rendu and Actaeon caught up, throwing their weapons at any enemy around them, and Briar returned to her form and summoned her wolves, Fluffy and Piddles. We pressed on, cutting through the line of the League of Storms. Briar helped me catch up and Clio vaulted Actaeon ahead. The reckoners, their mages, tried to press us back but we blasted our way through further and further.

After some time battling through the canyon, we heard noise further ahead. Demitri, the turncoat reckoner, was being chased by Captain Jorges himself. A few well-placed javelins and darts from Actaeon and Torag defeated the man. But he said, “Little mouse wouldn’t die. No matter. I can finish you all myself!” and transformed into a large, humanoid dragon. Actaeon later told me this was a draconian dreadnaught, and it was mighty and truthfully fearsome.

But alas, it was no match for us. It had leapt over Torag and Actaeon to try to kill Demitri again, but we surrounded it. It sliced its serrated weapons, further injuring Torag and Demitri, while swinging its massive tail at Clio. Clio summoned a forcefield to block the blow and held her ground against it, blasting the dreadnaught with a shockwave of energy. Rendu smashed his sword against the monster, igniting his weapons with divine light. Briar and I cast our spells against it to weaken it. Finally, Actaeon brought out Xander’s Axe, now seemingly more powerful, and slammed it into the ground beneath the dreadnaught. It tripped and fell as Actaeon mighty axe brought up spires of stone, piercing the monster and ending its life.

The canyon became immediately quiet, except for our heavy breathing. We are all tired, exhausted even. We are all bleeding and limping, but the League of Storms has been defeated today and Demitri yet lives. And now, we sit around a small campfire, binding our wounds and waiting to see what comes next.