This entry covers sessions 4 through 6.
After returning the book the Perrol, the old man thanked us and told us he would need some time to decipher it. I took the opportunity to head out to the woods and try and practice my magic. It was always best to train away from the prying eyes of the public, and I never liked the crowded city life anyway. About a week later I was just on the verge of making some real progress when I received my summons to the manor.
When I arrived I found Phaedra already there, while Gilliam appeared a few minutes after me. Again we were left to wait while the lords made themselves ready. Gilliam got to questioning Phaedra about what she had been up to. Phaedra told us about how she had opened up a “bakery” in town and that business had been good, but keeping her very busy. The lie seemed the set the guardsman off and he began intensely questioning the Marian. She simply smiled and brushed off his questions, eventually I had to intervene and reminded Gillam that we would have to work together. Our lives were in each other’s hands. We had little time to discuss however as we were soon brought before Dhonyl. As we entered I noticed that several of the nobleman’s small council was absent, only Perrol was present. Dhonyl explained that Alvyarin and Yahn the captain of the guard had gone ahead to Sallen to make preparations. Perrol looked at our confused expressions and began to explain. He was pleased to announce that he had successfully deciphered the book and that it had been quite enlightening.
He began to explain that the book contained a story about a brave and just man who fought against a cruel tyrant. In the end the man was forced to fight against the evil kings strongest men in battle and prevailed. But before the evil champion died he cursed the man and “exploded in rage.” While it was an interesting story, I failed to see how it helped us, both the man and the kingdom in the story were nameless. I couldn’t understand why the old man looked so damned excited. There must be something I was missing. Perrol went on to say that while the explosion of rage seemed similar to our incident, the important piece of information was in the author of the tale. It was penned by someone named Mikel “the Fatherless.” This broke the pattern of all the other authors in the collection of tales. The rest of the writers all listed their fathers and homelands. This Mikel had neither of those. Again I was lost, as were Gillam and Phaedra.
Perrol, sensing our confusion, explained that he theorized that Mikel was an Al’Qeri. I had heard only tales about the frogmen, so I was confused why he believed this. He began to describe, in excessive detail, about Al’Qeri breeding habits. I tried to pay attention, but his long winded explanation began to bore even me. Eventually Dhonyl stepped in and told the man to wrap it up. Eventually Perrol simply, that due to the Al’Qeri life-cycle he believed that Mikel the fatherless must be one of the frogmen. Dhonyl seemed to agree with this conclusion and asked if we would seek them out, claiming that they were rumored to reside in southern Lagen Mar.
I was intrigued, if only for the chance to meet an Al’Qeri. Their knowledge of magics might be vastly different, and hopefully deeper, than those I had encountered. Maybe they could help explain, or even help me to control, my dreams. Though I was still less than thrilled to be at the apparent beck and call of some nobleman, I was too intrigued to refuse. I agreed quickly, as did Phaedra though she seemed much more excited at the prospect of returning to her homeland. Gillam, however, was not so quick to agree. Amusingly, he seemed to doubt the mere existence of the Al’Qeri. I assured him they were very real, and besides it seemed as though our task had been decided for us regardless. The Lugardian sighed deeply and agreed, duty called and he was never one to shirk his duties.
Dhonyl told us that he had sent Alvyarin and Yahn ahead to Sallen to make preparations for us to take a ferry down the Snake Water River to Trikala. From Trikala we were to seek out information regarding the Al’Qeri and then meet the mysterious frogmen to find out what, if anything, they knew of Mikel the fatherless and the exploding man. Upon hearing out method of travel my gut sank a little, I had only traveled by boat once before, and it had not been a pleasant, but I would do what I had to in order to see these Al’Qeri. Pleased that we had agreed Dhonyl asked us to depart as soon as possible. We made our preparations and departed the next day.
Our journey to Sallen was quite uneventful. When we arrived Alvyarin and Yahn had already found us a ferry, Merida’s Run, that would take us to our destination. It was good to see Alvyarin again though he looked understandably distracted. We exchanged a few words and he again reminded me to be careful when using my magic, as most of the common folk remained superstitious and fearful of the arcane. I thanked him for his advice and wished him best of luck in his endeavors, I was certain he would need it.
We boarded the ferry the next day and I almost immediately began to feel ill. Our first few days of travel were rather uneventful, outside of my illness. The ship’s captain, a man named Yahn seemed enamored with Phaedra and also had some experience with the Al’Qeri. He couldn’t fathom why we would seek out frogmen that he called “thieves and freaks.” I attributed this to his ignorance and fear, but kept quiet. The first few nights were uneventful, though very unpleasant for me. I took the chance to speak to both Phaedra and some of the crew. Phaedra was excited to be returning to her homeland, she had been away for a very long time. I understood the excitement of returning to her homeland, but it felt like there was something more to it. I decided not to press her further on it, but I told her that as companions we depend on each other, our lives are in each other’s hands and that while her past is her own I would appreciate it if she would speak honestly with me. She contemplated my words and, apologized for her deception, stating she would be more forthright in the future. I thanked her, and continued our conversation.
By the third night I was starting to really feel the effects of my sea sickness, so I was pleased to hear that the ferry would be taking port in a small fishing town. I took the opportunity to stay at an inn, which had some very delicious roast peaches. I made sure to grab a few jars for my companions. Little did I know that that would be the last night of proper sleep I would get for some time…
Returning to the ship, we set off early in the morning. I noticed right away that things were slightly off, the water was rougher than it had been, and the skies were overcast. It looked like a storm was coming. The crew seemed to sense it too, as they worked to tie things down on the upper deck. However, we managed to travel the day with only a few slight showers before long evening had fallen. I went to bed, feeling uneasy, and my dream did nothing to help that feeling.
As I slept I found myself at a familiar camp, staring at a fire. But this dream had a very different feeling than the rest I had ever had. Something about the fire, that I had made, seemed off.
Something about the color or the way it moved. Next the fire I saw a small wooden toy boat. I looked at it but before I could pick it up I heard a strange, yet somehow familiar, voice. It said “You…” Looking down I saw Reva, my familiar. She looked up at me, quizzically, and asked “How did you get here?” I explained that I had gone to sleep on the boat and then found myself in this wood, wherever here was. Reva, just said “You… sleep” She went on to explain that I was within the dream world, and that I must have gotten there “by accident.” Upon hearing this words a million questions filled my mind, my heart raced, how had a come to such a place, even by accident? How could I leave? How could I return? Before I could ask any questions to Reva however, she lowered her head to the ground and said.
“There is a storm coming, don’t you feel it?”
I told her that I felt nothing. She gestured to the small wooden boat and commanded, “Wake up!” I grabbed the boat and the suddenly I was back in my bed, feeling sicker than ever. I looked at Gillam, fast asleep in the bunk next to me and grabbed his shoulder. I told him he needed to get up, the crew would need our help.
I rushed to the top deck and saw that the Snake Water had transformed into a raging current. The crew yelling at each other as Yahn tried to control the ship. I was shortly joined by Phaedra and Gillam. No sooner had they reached the deck that a huge waved crashed over the side of the boat. We braced as it washed over. In the waves wake were three enormous crabs. The men screamed seeing the crabs, as the scared and agitated crustaceans moved in for the attack. Gillam, Phaedra and I did our best to defend the crew. One of them managed to grab my arm, leaving a huge gash, but in the end we could kill the beasts. Unfortunately our victory was short-lived as one of the crew at the front of the boat cried out. A huge river alligator had been washed aboard. Just great.
By the time we had moved to engage the beast it already had one of the poor crew in its jaws and had battered another overboard with its tail. We fought bravely, with Gillam doing his best to taunt the beast, keeping its focus all on him. However Phaedras precise strikes on the beasts’ underbelly drew its ire. As she stabbed the beast in its lower jaw it began to twitch. Death spams. Unfortunately Phaedra did not realize the danger she was in until it was too late, as the beasts jaws snapped down on her chest. The Marian, trapped in the jaws of the beast, fell unconscious from the injuries she had sustained. Gillam and I both rushed to try and pry her out. We had barely removed her when we heard a loud crash and we heard Yahn yelling. I looked up at the front of the ship. The men that the alligator had dispatched had been serving as spotters for the captain, and without them, Yahn had little idea of where to steer the ship.
The ship lurched forward and then stopped suddenly with a loud crash, as the sound of wood breaking filled the air louder than thunder. I grabbed a hold of the railing, and braced myself. As I held on, time seemed to slow down for a moment. I felt the ambient magical energy in the air go absolutely crazy. My hair stood on end as though the air was electric. I had never felt anything quite like it. Suddenly I saw a bright golden globe fly through the air past me. I could see the silhouettes of Gillam and Phadrea inside. However, I could only catch a glimpse as the globe raced across the sky and crashed into the woods, sending trees and branches splintering in its path. I heard a loud crash, as it made contact in the forest. I didn’t know what to make of what I just saw but I didn’t have much time to consider it as I noticed the ship was quickly sinking.
Pulling myself up on to the guard railing I leapt for the nearby trees. It was close, but my grip stayed true. As I climbed into the tree I looked back at the wreck of the boat for any other survivors. I only saw one, Yahn. I was able to get a rope to him and he made it to the tree line, safe. Though clearly distraught at losing his precious ship. Having saved the captain, my thought turned to my companions. I told Yahn I would return for him shortly and then turned to make my way across the trees. Leaping from branch to branch, tree to tree, I slowly made my way toward dry land. When I finally made it, it didn’t take long to find Gillam and Phaedra, I merely had to follow the line of destruction.
When I found them, the two were both unconscious in a large crater roughly the size of the golden globe. I grabbed my friends and pulled them to higher ground. As I grabbed them I noticed the ring on Gillams finger was faintly glowing. I knew the ring held magic but never in my wildest imaginings did I think it would be that powerful. I quickly set up a bivouac and set to treating their wounds. It was a long and exhausting night, but I would not let myself rest while my companions remained in danger.
When morning came the storm had passed and both Gillam and Phaedra awoke slowly and groggily. The storm had made hunting nearly impossible but I had managed to scrounge up a few mushrooms and mixed them in the pot with my remaining rations so that they could have some semblance of a breakfast. We would need the energy. Yahn had also managed to find to our camp. Once they woke up I asked what they remembered. Phaedra remembered the alligator and Gilliam remembered everything up until the crash, he didn’t seem to recall the golden globe. Though he could see his finger was badly burned. I explained what had happened and Gilliam found it all remarkable, and slightly unbelievable. We agreed that we would have to research it later, we had much more pressing matters. We needed to find some kind of settlement, so we could properly rest and then continue on our journey. We were in a very dangerous situation. The storm and river water had soaked my bow leaving it in a less than ideal condition and Gillam and Phaedra were greatly weakened. Under normal circumstances I would be fine out in the wild. But my tools had been swept away down the river and this part of the forest seemed especially barren, I had almost no luck finding any game.
We set off up the river coast in the only direction available to us. The journey was hard and treacherous, but we managed to make our way. Game, however, remained scarce. On our second morning I lucked out and managed to catch a rabbit and some fresh water, but we needed something more substantial. On the second day we happened upon several dead bodies that had been washed up, one of them was a member of Yahn’s men. We agreed to build several cairns for the bodies, to put their souls to rest. A gesture which was appreciated by Yahn.
On the second night we were attacked by several mountain lions. It was a fierce battle, made even harder due to our exhaustion. Fortunately, Phaedra and I managed to kill one of the beasts and we scared off the other. However no one escaped the fight uninjured, least of all Yahn and Phaedra. Freshly wounded we were under more pressure than ever to escape these barren woods.
The next day as we were traveling Phaedra and I overheard some talking in the distance. As we made our way to the voices we moved up slowly and saw a small camp and two men with horses. The seemed to go by the names Thaylen and Markus. Cautious we told Gillam and Yahn to stay back while we investigated.
As we broke the tree line, we clearly startled the men. I could hardly blame them, we must have looked quite the sight: dirty, tattered clothes, and starving. We identified ourselves and explained our situation. Reacting quickly the men went to help us. The one named Markus hopped on his horse and said he would go get help and told Thaylen to help us and give us some tea. As the other man rode off, I gestured for Gillam and Yahn to join us. This seemed to startle Thaylen even more, but he once again reacted quickly grabbing more blankets. Phaedra offered everything that was given to her instantly. I was less than thrilled. The men seemed a little too helpful. It struck me as out of character for Phaedra to be so naïve. Had the forest dulled her senses that much?
Thaylen explained that he and his friend Markus were traveling through the area with a caravan and that they had just rode into this area to do some hunting ahead of their people. As he told us this story he prepared some tea, I noticed his hands were shaking ever so slightly as he prepared it. Everything about this set off alarms in my head. Something just wasn’t right here. He presented us with tea, which he said would help warm us up. Phaedra drank it eagerly, I took it and drank, though grudgingly. I hadn’t even set the cup down before I began to feel the effects of the drug. It was no ordinary tea, and I had been right to be nervous. Gillam and Yahn collapsed on the ground next to me instantly. Phaedra and I stood up, if wobbly, and reached for our weapons.
Thaylen seemed surprised that we had managed to resist his drug, if only temporarily. I shot as many arrows as I could at the man, who tried to run and hide. Though many of my shots missed, luckily one hit true. Thaylen cried out and collapsed with Phaedras knife in his belly and my arrow in his chest. His crumpled body was the last thing I saw as my vision went black.
When I woke I immediately felt the cold of iron around my neck, wrists, and ankles. I had also been stripped and thrown in some rags in even worse condition than my old clothes. As my vision slowly cleared I saw the rest of my companions chained up the same as myself. They seemed to have just woken. Along with being chained up, we were in a small prison cart with very little in the way of windows making it quite difficult to see out. Though we could see just a little.
Gillam and Yahn both looked incredibly confused at what had happened. I explained to them about our betrayal. We quickly assessed that our welcoming hosts were slavers, and we had proven to be something of a small windfall for them. Gillam seemed furious at the situation, as was I, while Yahn seemed to sink further into despair. The poor man had lost his livelihood, his crew, and now he was a slave. Phaedra on the other hand looked incredibly nervous. I notice that she had been glancing back and forth out of the window, as if confirming what she was seeing was really there. I asked her what the matter was, reminding her that if she knew something then it would be in all of our interests to tell us. She looked at Gilliam and I with nervous, almost begins eyes, and then told us her tale.
Apparently she had been working under Perrols direct command to establish a spy network within Arren, and Phaedra was set to be in command of the network. Perrol’s aim was supposedly to use criminals in this network as a way of “repurposing nefarious minds.” What was more, Phaedra had just recently carried out a task for Perrol in which she had raided a summit of criminal cartels. She said that the Wolf, Raven, and Boar cartels had all joined this meeting. The names meant nothing to me, but it was clear they were all very powerful organizations. Phaedra went on to explain that she was certain that this very slaver caravan was run by the Wolf cartel, and if their leader, the “Alpha” discovered she was here it would turn a bad situation even worse. As she finished her tale, Phaedra looked somewhat relieved to have shared the information. Keeping secrets is taxing, something I knew all too well.
I had suspected Phaedra might have been working with Perrol though I could never have imagined it to be on such an extensive level. Gilliam looked furious upon hearing that all this had happened “right under his nose.” Though I calmed him down, telling him he was in no position to arrest Phaedra and that we were companions. Yahn, just looked completely shocked, he had no idea the kinds of people he had been transporting…
Suddenly the cart door opened. Apparently our argument had made quite a ruckus. Opening the door was the other man who we had met in the woods Markus, standing next to him was a large many with many scars. The man was identified as Throm who informed us that we would do well to get used to our new position as slaves. I spit in his face and he responded with a punch, I grinned. I would be sure to make these bastards pay for enslaving a Mrissan. He laughed and said I could struggle all I wanted but it would only make things harder on myself. With that he ordered Markus to keep a watch on us and left. Soon after the cart lurched forward and the caravan was on the move.
We traveled for several days through the woods and between the mountains. Escape was fruitless but I still gave the guards trouble at every opportunity. I earned myself a few beatings, but it was no matter. I would bide my time until an opportunity presented itself. Gillam continued to curse the slavers, saying he would arrest them all. Phaedra struggled with the locks. Unfortunately without any tools she had no luck at getting out. Our situation seemed hopeless.
The next day the carvan came to stop midday, this was different from the last few days. We heard some commotion, and Markus muttered something about another caravan. Sounded like they were making a trade. The cart had been stopped for at least an hour and a half when we heard voices approaching from outside. It was the bastard Throm, he was spinning a sales pitch to the other man, about us. As I listened I grew steadily angrier. However, nothing could prepare me for what I saw when the cart door opened again.
Standing next to Throm was Peraashk – the merchant we had met in Sallen. Peraashk looked just as surprised as we did, though he quickly gestured for us to keep quiet, lest we alert Throm. Throm went on, doing his best to sell us to Peraashk. The merchant played his part well, nodding at the slavers words. He finally entered the cart, grabbed my face and looked at me. He asked if I could be a good and obedient servant. Such a question to ask, through gritted teeth I agreed. He smiled and said “very good,” and agreed to pay 3,500 gold for the purchase of Gillam, Phaedra, Yahn and I.
We moved quickly, returning to Peraashk’s caravan. As we moved however I saw a large cart in the center of the slavers camp. It was elaborately designed and brimming with loot. Likely ill-gotten gains, and the probable location of our gear. One item stood out to me though. A set of opulently colored clothes. They were strikingly similar to those worn by Lingen, the bard I had guided from Aaren to Sallen. Had he been caught as well? There was no time to think on that however as Peraashk hurriedly brought us into his tent. We had much explaining to do.
We joined up with Peraashk’s caravan and quickly explained our predicament. The man nodded and said that it would be best if we waited until we reached another village to fully discuss as there could be ears listening nearby. We agreed and headed with his caravan to a small town called Kayappa. Peraashk’s caravan was much smaller than the slavers so we were able to move much quicker.
After about three days travel we arrived in the small village. In that time Peraashk had managed to feed us, clothe us, and help us recover from our wounds. We were truly in his debt. I did notice that his muscle, Dolk, was missing. Peraashk said that he was fine, but still recovering from his wounds. He was thankful that we had helped save his life, and that was why he had felt obligated to save ours. I nodded. Rare to find a merchant with such morals.
When we arrived in Kayappa, Peraashk took us to the local tavern and secured us a private room in the back where we could figure out what we should do. We had barely gotten to discuss our plan of action when suddenly there was a loud commotion in the taverns main hall. Then without warning a familiar face stepped into our room being chased by the innkeeper. Lingen.
Though I could tell that he didn’t recognize me at all. I was hardly surprised. I also noticed that the bard was in tattered rags, much like those that we had worn. I looked at him and said “Lingen? What happened?”
He looked at me in shock and said, “Oh! A fan! You won’t believe all of the terrible luck I’ve been having. Caught by slavers, and now this fool doesn’t believe that I’m a bard simply because my instrument has been stolen! Look her old man, this fellow knows me!” I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at the fool. Phaedra looked like she wanted to strangle him, and Gillam and Peraashk just seemed confused. I explained to the innkeeper that Lingen was indeed a bard and that we would have words with him. He seemed disappointed but accepted my words and left us.
We spoke with the bard and apparently he had been caught by the same slavers as we had, but he had managed to escape somehow. There had been a “sneaky woman” and another that fit Throm’s description. As he told his tale something didn’t quite fit, how had this fool managed to escape them? Dumb luck? I could feel Reva tighten around my arm. This man was more than he appeared. A yet I did not sense him as a threat, simply a very talented man.
After long deliberation we decided that we would raid the slavers caravan to retrieve our goods, with Lingen. Peraashk agreed to fund our operation under two circumstances. That we completely cover ourselves, and that if we are seen we are sure they do not recognize us and if they do we are to kill them. I nodded and silently hoped that Throm happened to spot us so that I could put an arrow between his smug eyes. Gillam and Phaedra were also onboard with the plan, though clearly less than thrilled about our fourth wheel. But without Lingen’s expertise in applying a disguise we would be hard pressed to mask ourselves. With a plan in place we set out the following day.
I was able to track the slavers without much difficulty. Figuring that they might also be en route to Trikala we found an excellent spot to ambush them. A clearing on the side of the road that appeared to have seen use for countless caravans following the path to and from Trikala.
We scouted out the area and set up a plan to ambush in the night, taking out the guards quickly and quietly. The operation proved quite successful over all, though Throm never showed his face to my great disappointment. Phaedra proved several times just how deadly she could be with her dueling sword as she killed several guards with terrifying efficiency. During our ambush however, Lingen also showed that he indeed was more than he first appeared to be.
At one point two guards approached our hiding position at the same time. We knew we couldn’t dispatch them both before the other would have a chance to cry out and alert the rest of the men. As they drew closer I looked at Phaedra, panicked, unsure of what to do. When suddenly Lingen stepped out of the woods, waved at the men and started to sing a quiet lullaby. I wanted to strangle the bard right then, when I noticed that the men were listening, a little too intently to Lingen’s song. He had them hypnotized, or enchanted. I could sense magic, real magic, behind his voice. He truly was not an ordinary bard. However this distraction was all we needed to finish off the men who stood their dumbstruck.
After that, we managed to sneak into the camp, dodging patrols, and sleeping guardsmen and managed to reach the loot cart in the center of the camp. Phaedra’s deft fingers made quick work of the locks and Gillams strong back managed to carry the carts contents almost single handedly. As we left we thought about trying to steal a few horses to ease our escape. I would have refused to submit myself and ride one of the beasts. Though ultimately that was no problem at all as the horses proved too restless and startled to ride. Horseless, but with our gear intact we made our escape.
We decided to stick to the back trails and hills as we worked towards the great Marian city of Tikala, hoping to avoid detection. After a few days we came to a great clearing, and saw the mass of Trikala before us. Pheadra seemed as if she might jump for joy upon seeing the alabaster stone walls of a Marin city. I became very nervous, especially upon seeing a large crowd outside the city gates. Aaren was already too big of a city for me to take, and this mass of stone before us was at least three times its size. I felt sick. To make matters worse, we and told Peraashk that we would rendezvous with him at Trikala. Seeing the massive size of the city and the huge number of people I had no idea how we were going to find him…