Journal Entries for Chillwind 508

Alys’ Journal

Journal Entries for Transformation 508

1 Chillwind 508

Today we arrived at the perimeter of the ruins. We could see the remains of both stone and wrought crystal hidden in the overgrowth over an area of about a square mile. We rode around the area, hoping to find an obvious opening into what was once a complex of some sort when we were attacked by a fowl hybrid of a creature. It had both the features of an owl and of a bear and its red, mad eyes darted about with ferocious killing intent as it clawed at us and our mounts. We finally managed to put it down, but had to take advantage of some of my cousin’s healing powers after the fight.

We finally decide to just move in and take our chances. We find no obvious path and hope to find one as we go. The strange crystal/stone structures are utterly alien and bizarre. Everything has been worn down to a level no more than a foot off of the ground. This site is ancient in every sense of the word. We hear strange hoots and howls coming from the surrounding woods. Suddenly, we are set upon by two more of those owl-bear creatures. They are mad and ferocious and hard to put down—but put down they are.

Azuredee continues to look for a trail or any sign of a structure that we can enter. As we look, the overgrowth begins to move and attack us! This creature, which for all practical purposes looks like a shambling mound of vines and branches, begins to lash out against us. We are hard pressed, but finally manage to slay the beast—if beast it was. Azuredee managed to heal my wounds as I was sorely pressed in the fight.

Finally, my cousin’s search yield some fruit. We come across a crystalline slab. The crystal is somewhat transparent and as the sun sets, the light yields the view of some stairs below the slab, leading down. We decide to make camp here and try to move the slab in the morning.

As we set up camp, we can still here the strange the hooting-howling sounds echoing in the woods surrounding us.

2 Chillwind 508

Today we entered the underground chamber.

I managed to wedge a crowbar beneath the crystalline slab and heave. After several tries, I finally got it to move away from the staircase hidden below. Soon, we hear a strange growling, whining come up from below and, emerging from the staircase was a foul creature, mixing the attributes of a dog and rat. It launched itself at me, but I fought it off easily. Other came to take its place and it was vanquished as swiftly. We heard a high-pitched, but guttural cry come from the bottom of the stair case and two more of the creatures ventured up. I struck them down. There came a frustrated cry from below and I could hear the movement of many feet on stone.

With a signal to Azuredee, I started making my way down, careful to avoid the filthy bodies of the slain creatures. She did the same. She also reached over and cast a light spell upon my axe, making it glow like a torch within the narrow staircase. At the bottom of the stairs I could see a gathered host of goblins. Fierce, though not very bright, they attacked before I could alight from the stairs, bottle-necking themselves against me and my axe in the staircase, forcing me to deal with them one at a time. In what seemed like no time at all, I had slain ten of the small creatures, creating a macabre pile of goblinoid bodies at the foot of the stairs. All that remained was one of those strange dog-like creatures, whining and warily watching us from the center of the room. Finally, tired of waiting, it sprang and I cut it down as well.

Azuredee and I removed the bodies from the staircase and returned to the remains of our camp and made sure our animals were secure before continuing to explore the ruins below. We gathered what equipment we thought we’d need and returned to the underground chamber.

The room was oddly shaped and the floor glimmered with crystalline mosaics in the floor depicting a nearly blinding aesthetic of whirling colors and light. It hurt the head to look too long at the floor. The walls were also covered in mosaics, though less blindingly so, with colored stones that depicted beautiful elongated humanoids dancing in multicolored lights. Azuredee searched the room out and found a hidden panel in one of the oddly spaced walls. This panel led to another oddly shaped room with mosaics on the walls, though these mosaics had been defaced—cut, scratched, and smeared with feces. Azuredee found another secret panel in this room, as well as an open archway to the north. We ventured north.

Here we found what looked to be a small room being used as a kennel for the strange dog creatures by the goblins. It was closed off by a portcullis and held three of the foul creatures inside. We also found more passageways leading to the west and followed them. We came upon another large chamber with defaced mosaics, though this one held a dais on the southern wall. Behind the dais we found what was likely a dressing room of some sort with iron pegs set into the walls.

From here we ventured south and encountered a locked door, though the mechanism on it was so strange that Azuredee could not open it. Finally giving it up, we continued down an alternate passageway and find two secret panels. One lead into the locked room that Azuredee could not breach before, revealing a small closet-like chamber. This room also has a door leading back into the very first chamber from which we entered the ruins. The other lead into a larger chamber containing more of the defaced mosaics.

From here we followed another passageway heading down and another locked door—though this door had a trap on it that Azuredee was able to find and disable. Otherwise, she would have been pricked by a poison dart upon attempting to open the door. This revealed a small room with nothing in it besides more defaced mosaics and a door leading to another room.

After carefully opening the door, the light from the axe—and the stench of the room—revealed that it was full of goblins. A cry was raised and they charged me. I held my ground in the doorway, once again forcing them to attack me one at a time. By the time the brief battle was done, I had slain fifteen of the foul creatures. The room they occupied was filthy, defaced, and obviously a lair of some sort.

From here, we ventured into a few other rooms—all with defaced mosaics, all empty. Eventually, we made our way back and circled our way back toward the kennel room, ending up in the room where Azuredee had found a secret panel, but we had opted not to explore past it. Now, we would.

Azuredee reckoned that it was midafternoon, so that we still had some time to explore before nightfall. She moved the secret panel and, checking the area for traps, led the way down a passage way. I followed warily with my axe.

The passageway led to a door. My cousin checked it for traps and found none, though determined that it was locked. She tried to use her tools to unlock it when the area was suddenly filled with flames! Azuredee checked the door again and found what she obviously did not see before—evidence of a magical trap. I moved away from the radius of the flames and allowed my cousin to work at disabling the trap. Before long, she was able to do so and we were able to move forward safely as she, eventually, managed to unlock the door as well.

We opened the door, revealing a sizable room—and a man-sized wooden humanoid charging toward us. I stepped to the fore and leveled my axe. Suddenly the air was filled with splinters—I felt them pierce me between the places where my armor met. Then my foe and I clashed. It was strong—stronger than I expected. I went down three times. Each time my cousin’s magic brought me back to fighting strength and I went back to work. Finally, my foe was dispatched.

As I rested, Azuredee checked out the room. This was one of the few rooms where the mosaics were not defaced—probably due to the traps protecting the room. These showed the beautiful elongated humanoids with strange gemstones floating about their heads performing various acts of sorcery. At the center of the room was a pedestal with three gemstones floating above it. One was dark blue, another a white spindle, and another was a dusky rose prism.

My cousin approached the gemstones stones and gingerly took the dark blue one. Nothing happened. But when she released it from her grip, it rose up and began orbiting her own head, much in the same way as was depicted in the mosaics! She turned to me in wonder and said that she felt more alert. She reached out and took the orbiting stone and stowed it away in her belt pouch. She then did the same with the white spindle stone. She felt nothing unusual, but it, too, orbited her head in the same way. She stowed it away as well. She tried the same thing with the dusky rose prism. It, too, orbited her head, though she felt nothing unusual. She stowed it in her pouch with the others.

There is a door to the north and a door south. Azuredee determines that the door to the south is trapped in much the same way as the door that we used to enter was trapped. The door to the north is locked, but not trapped. It takes much time, but Azuredee manages to unlock the door to the north. We open it and follow a long winding corridor that takes us to another trapped door. This trap, my cousin informs, is much less sophisticated—probably designed by the goblins. She disables it and opens the door—to more of those odious dog/rat hybrids that the goblins seem to be breeding. We manage to dispatch them, with Azuredee slaying the last one, and discover that this room seems to be where the goblins are storing their “wealth”.

We find an assortment of coins and gems as well as some well-made weapons and jewelry. We decide to haul our finds up to our cart and make camp for the night, as nightfall is surely to come soon. We backtrack to the entrance of the ruins and fetch saddlebags to carry the horde. Night falls by the time we get finished and we pitch our camp by the slab. Azuredee takes the first watch and I will take the second. Our sleep is marred by the strange hoot-howls of the owlbears in the surrounding woods.

3 Chillwind 508

In the morning we headed back inside the ruins and pick up where we left off. This time, we follow the passage parallel to the secret passage that led to the floating stones. This search leads to a series of empty and defaced rooms that are connected to rooms that we have already explored. Eventually, we come to a room that is unfamiliar. As Azuredee begins to search it out for secret compartments and such, a portcullis opens and goblins begin pouring into the room. I step forward to defend her. One particular cheeky specimen brandishes his weapon and I take it from him in disgust. Soon, the room is filled with dead goblins.

Beyond their lair, we find another room full of the vermin and their dogs. These are dispatched just as easily. We also find a crumbling staircase leading down. Azuredee determines that the stairs are too weak for us to use so we decide to move on.

In our exploration, we find more empty, defaced rooms connecting to places where we had already explored. To be honest, the exploration had begun to grow tedious. I despaired of finding anything of interested for my cousin’s grandmother other than the floating stones and tales of a defaced edifice. We opened one door and were were met by a musky odor and a swarm of rats. We managed to beat the creatures off of us, but it was a near thing. The vile creatures were difficult to defeat.

After the rats, we discovered another series of empty rooms, and finally another group of goblins standing sentry at a portcullis. These were dispatched quickly enough and we made our way into the room, as the portcullis was in working order.

In this room, the mosaics were not defaced. The beautiful elongated humanoid was looking benevolently down upon her subjects from a mountaintop throne. In hindsight, this should have been a clue. The goblins dared not deface this particular room. As we explored the room, which included treasures upon the floor, Azuredee suddenly gasped. Beside her appeared, as if from vapor, a large, dark snake-like being with a human head and a stinger-tail. Said tail was coming down within inches of my cousin and striking the floor! I moved in with my axe to strike.

This creature was amazingly strong and was a spell-caster besides. We were assaulted with barrages of flame and magic, as well as strikes from its stinger. Azuredee sang and cast healing spells, bringing me back from the brink of death several times. But finally, finally, we prevailed, and the creature lay dead before us. We sat, panting, looking at it and the treasure that lay before us, thankful for our lives.

After we rested and collected the treasure, we continued our exploration of the ruin. After running into a dead end and few repeated rooms, we finally stumbled upon what could only be called the goblin throne room. Inside was a make-shift throne of refuse and debris and large example of that race ensconced upon it. A dozen goblins and five of those odious dogs occupied the room, attending their chief. They rushed the door, though I managed to bottleneck them. Eventually, I made my way through them all. Only the chief awaited me on the other side.

And waited for me he did. He had the wisdom not to rush the door. He simply waited for me, his weapon out and ready. I entered the room and approached, cautiously. Finally, I called him out and charged. He attacked, but I ducked and then I struck, twice. He lay bleeding upon the floor with his brethren. I cannot say it was a good fight, but he gave me more of a fight than his subjects.

Finally, we decided we had finished exploring these ruins, having double-backed several times on areas where we had already been. We emerged into the afternoon sunshine to find our steeds unaccosted. We loaded up our newly acquired gains and headed away from the ruins and toward Orielle.

6 Chillwind 508

After an uneventful journey through the forest, we have finally arrived in Orielle. We head to the Silverthistle estate to see what Azuredee’s family makes of our finds in the ruins of the Ysar.

We arrived at the estate and were greeted by the chamberlain, Talthia, who informs us that the family is in the sitting room, with the exception of Azuredee’s mother. So we move into the parlor where we are met by Deerdara, Miralandra, and Azuria. The two of us are covered in road dust, goblin bits, and some of our own blood and carrying large bags. Nevertheless, Azuredee smiles and announces that she has “tales to tell and fortunes for the family.” My cousin’s grandmother motions for her to tell her tale and we are ushered into seats as Azuredee tells our story.

Azuredee’s tale-spinning is without much embellishment, a straightforward account of events. Azuria actually pauses in her perusal of her scrolls and listens. As the tale continues, she begins to take notes on parchment. My cousin also points out that some of the mosaics are unharmed by the goblin desecrators and may still be of interest to scholars. When she brings out the ioun stones for viewing, she definitely gets the attention of her listeners. She also shares what she knows of the stones, how they enhance certain abilities depending upon their type. Finally, she offers to use her abilities to detect magical properties on the various trinkets that were found in the ruins, an offer which Miralandra accepts.

Azuredee separates out all of the trinkets from our treasures and casts her magic, finding a moderately strong conjuration aura on a set of steel bracers and a strong aura of magic on the ioun stones. She is unable to determine anything more.

“You have done well, daughter of my daughter,” says Deerdara. I daresay that my cousin preened under the praise from her grandmother.

“Where is my mother?” Azuredee asked.

“She is at that tavern.” Her grandmother did not bother to keep the disdain from her answer. “Talthia can be sent for her.”

“No, that is not necessary. I will go to her. If we have your leave to go.”

“Of course.”

So we headed to the Maiden’s Song. As we went, my cousin commented that this experience was better than the last one. My opinion was that this was largely due to the fact that we came bearing gifts. Perhaps I have gained a degree of cynicism in our travels and in dealing with my elven kin.

At the Maiden’s Song we spotted Tessara drinking with another elven woman at one of the booths. She spotted us and rushed over to greet us, checking her grimy daughter for injuries and taking joy in our return. She introduced us to her friend, Lorala, and had us sit with them. Tessara tells Lorala that we have returned from exploring some ruins of The Ysar. Lorala seemed suitably impressed and Azuredee, always willing to spin a tale, told the story—though she didn’t focus on the treasure hunting aspects of the tale but on the spoiled beauty of the ruins and desecration of the goblins. She also performed her latest song, which drew the attention of all the patrons of the tavern and many accolades.

After her performance, we decided to head back to the estate, after getting a promise from Tessara that we would see her at dinner. At the estate, we both bathed and changed our clothes after sending our traveling gear to be mended. As Azuredee was discussing when dinner would begin with Talthia, we were approached by her aunt Azuria.

" Good, I was hoping to find you. I enjoyed your story earlier today. There was so much information I could not get it all down in my notes. I am in correspondence with another scholar that specializes in Ysar ruins. I thought that perhaps instead of trying to re-copy your tale in my notes, I was wondering if perhaps you would be interested in visiting with him directly in Almathriel? "

Both my cousin and I were taken aback—and not only because this was the most that this aunt had spoken to us since we had arrived in Orielle. Almathriel is the elven capital and, by all accounts, a very interesting city. This would be a very good opportunity for Azuredee to make a contact in that city. I waited to hear her answer.

“Can I think about it?” she asked.

“Of course,” Azuria said. “Also, we discussed some of the treasures you brought back from the ruins and I was able to examine some of them as well and came to some more, well, expanded, conclusions. While I agree with the conclusions you came to regarding the stones, I also believe that the braces produce magic of a protective nature covering the entire body. After much discussion, we decided that in light of your service to the family that you or your cousin could make good use of these bracers in further service so. . .” And she presented the steel bracers to Azuredee.

We thanked her as the elf priestess shyly shuffled away. We then went to my cousin’s chamber to discuss the previous conversation. We agreed that we would like to go to Almathriel and meet with her aunt’s contact. We also decided that Azuredee would keep the bracers as I still had plenty protection with my armor and ring. Afterwards, we explored the estate grounds until seven bells sounded, summoning us to dinner.

At dinner the entire family was in attendance, though Azuredee’s former governess was not—she apparently had other plans for the evening. Everyone was congratulatory of Azuredee and myself, with Deerdara stating that she “brought light to the family name today.” Over the course of the dinner, the older elf also broached the subject of what Azuredee felt would be “fair compensation” for the work she did for the family. My cousin responded that she didn’t do it for compensation, but for the family. The older woman seemed to lose a bit of patience.

“Yes, of course. But never let it be said that this family let its members do work without being able to put food in their mouths.”

“Well, grandmother. Alys and I have been successful in our travels and are in no danger of starving. By the way, Aunt Azuria, Alys and I will go to Almathriel to meet with your correspondent.”

Grandmother took hold of the conversation again. “Do not think me daft, girl. You have been successful in your travels by having shares of treasure, not by giving up those shares.” She called Talthia over and whispered in her ear. “It is to my discretion.”

“Yes, Grandmother.”

“That wasn’t a question.”

The dinner was quiet and tense after this exchange. Azuredee tried to change the topic to the capital, which didn’t really work. Tessara was game, warming to the subject but Azuria said she found the city to be “too busy” while both Deerdara and Miralandra both dismissed it as “too decadent.” Finally, as the meal came to an end, Azuredee offered to perform for everyone. At first Deerdara demurred, but Miralandra accepted the offer, deeming it “appropriate”.

Azuredee’s performance was magnificent, as usual, drawing nods of appreciation from all and really breaking the icy reserve formed during the dinner conversation. Towards the end of the performance, Anandiel Starshadow returns watches as Azuredee finishes. She seems to pay particular attention to her lute-work. Finally I realize that she seems to recognize the instrument—Anglorion.

After the entertainment, the former governess approached my cousin, seemingly shaken by the performance.

“That’s a very singular instrument.”

“She is. I see you recognize her.”

“How could I not?”

“I’m ashamed to say that just now remembered your heritage. Would you like to hold her?”

Then I realized that this Anandiel Starshadow must be a descendant of the Ithrandiel Starshadow that originally had Anglorion. I can be dense sometimes.

The governess’ eyes actually got a bit misty. “Yes. Yes I would.”

Azuredee passed the instrument over to the older elf and smiled. The elf held the lute gently and whispered “I thought I’d never hear her again.”

“You’ve heard her play?” my cousin asked.

“When I was very small.” The long lives of elves is something that I’ll never get used to, I’m afraid. That must have been nearly three hundred years ago.

“I would be honored to tell you how I came to own her,” Azuredee offered.

“Yes, I would like to hear it.”

So we all settled in to hear another saga. I sat straight in my chair and maintained my dignity as my part in the tales came up, though secretly I could a flush creep up my cheeks. The songs and tales went late into the night, but Azuredee held her audience riveted. Finally, the tale was done and she accepted her much deserved accolades. Everyone said their goodnights and Azuria said that she would meet with us to give us more details for our trip to the capital in the morning. As she left, the older governess whispered to Azuredee “Grandmother would have been proud that you found her Anglorion.”

7 Chillwind 508

The next morning we met with Azuria at breakfast to discuss our meeting at the capital with her correspondent. He is apparently a well-to-do scholar by the name of Paranthiel Springvale. She’s never met the elf in person, but has only sent letters back and forth with him on matters concerning Ysarian scholarship. We are allowed to discuss what all we experienced and saw at the ruins but not give him the location of the ruins—if he wants that, he is to contact Azuria directly to negotiate with the family. Azuria also gave us the address of the elf’s estate within city—as I said, he’s apparently quite well-heeled for a scholar. Azuria will also provide us with a letter of introduction to get us in the door.

Once all of that was taken of, Azuredee took me to her room and showed me a bag of coins and gems that was apparently left there for us last night—“fair compensation” indeed. We were given all of the gemstones we found and roughly half of the coin. We must have suitably impressed Grandmother with our exploits. We decide to head into town to resupply for our trip to Almathriel, which will be roughly eighty miles overland.

We buy me a potion of Cure Moderate Wounds in case my cousin is taken out and not able to heal with her magic, as well as a few sundries around town. The local economy is undergoing a slight inflation and prices are high—very disappointing, but not much to be done about it. We head back to the house and spend the rest of the day with Tessara in the solarium until dinner is called.

Dinner was not the somber affair of last time and everyone seems to be on good behavior. Once again, after it was done, Azuredee offered to perform, which was wonderful and a fitting finale to our stay. Everyone wished us well on our journey and Azuredee mentioned that we may pass this way again on our way back to the human kingdoms. Deerdara said that we would be welcomed.

8 Chillwind 508

We left Orielle early in the morning for Almathriel. The weather was cool, with a breeze stirring the autumn leaves in the forest. Azuredee drove the cart, with her steed tethered behind it and I rode on Brownie at point.

As we rode, I let my reveries get the best of me as I didn’t hear the roar of hooves until it was nearly too late. I heard my cousin shout an alarm just as Brownie reared up. Suddenly, bursting forth from the between the trees was a stampede of aurochs crossing our path! I was nearly thrown, but managed to recover myself and stand my ground. The stampede passed without trampling anyone, thank the gods. I vowed to be more vigilant.

The rest of the day was far less eventful. We made a camp in the shelter of the huge old growth trees and settled in for the night. Unfortunately, I was awakened during Azuredee’s guard shift to the cries of “Spider!” as a huge specimen of that species dropped from the trees to assault her. It bit her, its poison coursing through her veins before I could dispatch it. Hopefully the sickness will pass and her strength will return to her soon as we have no curatives for poison. So far my shift has been uneventful. . .

10 Chillwind 508

The past two days of travel have been uneventful—I suppose we were due for a disturbance. . .

As I settled into my guard shift, I thought I heard a noise in the surrounding woods. I held my axe at the ready as a diminutive form hurled itself at me from the foliage. I struck it down almost before I realized what it was— goblin. Soon, I realized more were emerging from woods, shouting their unintelligible battle cries. The noise woke my cousin, who rose and grabbed her lute and began singing a dirge which seemed to have an effect on the easily frightened creatures. I began slaying them without mercy—I have little when it comes to these vermin. They have no honor and they attack to kill in the night with little regard to mercy or courage themselves. Finally, all eight of the creatures were slain. We removed their bodies from the camp and rested easy.

11 Chillwind 508

After another quiet day of travel, we settled in for the night. Azuredee woke me up for my guard shift and I began my vigil. However, as I gazed about the camp, I noticed something unsettling about one of the many vines wrapped about one of the trees around which we were camped. I could have sworn I saw it move in the firelight. . . and suddenly, it tried to wrap around me!

Crying “Ware the vines!” as I engaged with the eager foliage, I waded into battle, hoping to wake my companion. She awoke and began signing a song to inspire my courage. Soon all of the vegetation in the camp began to move, trying to trip us up; fortunately we kept our footing. My axe found it home not once, but twice, slicing through the vine and ending its whipping about. The vegetation was still. Azuredee identified it as an " assassin vine ", a carnivorous plant. Regardless, it was a nasty piece of work and was dead. Fortunately, the rest of the night was much less exciting.

12 Chillwind 508

This day I nearly lost my boon companion, Brownie. It is not a loss I would like to contemplate.

We were making our way through the forest, apparently, once again, oblivious to the dangers lurking right under our collective noses. Suddenly a huge mound of vegetation slams into my steed and I. I manage to dismount without injuring myself, my Brownie is knocked with such force as to be unconscious on the ground. This mound, similar to those we fought near the Ysar ruins then turns its attention toward me.

This shambling mound of vegetation is large and powerful. It slams into me repeatedly and wraps its limbs around me to crush me. I continue to try and hack at it with my axe. Then I see Azuredee. She casts a spell and suddenly I see the thing slip and fall on its backside. Next thing I know, she’s come to my side and is casting something on my armor. It then rises and attempts to grab me again—but I slip from its grasp like a greased pig. Thank you, cousin! Two more swipes with my axe and the thing falls again with a shudder.

Then Azuredee runs to my fallen steed and casts her healing magic upon her—she rises! Thank the gods—and thank my cousin for her wide-flung knowledge. We regroup and continue on our way.

The rest of the day passed without incident, as did the night. Thank the gods for small favors.

15 Chillwind 508

The past few days and nights have been quiet. Other than a narrowly-avoided swarm of bats, nothing of note has happened. Our reprieve ended tonight. . .

I was awoke by the sound of Azuredee yelling " Werewolf! " I grabbed my axe, though, unfortunately, I did not have time to don my armor. Sure enough I saw that she was facing off against a strange hybrid wolf-man who was trying grapple her to ground as she fended him off with her longsword. I closed the distance and planted my axe into its back—and found that it didn’t penetrate nearly as much as I thought it should. Perhaps such a creature was impervious to even magical weapons. It continued to try and grapple and bite Azuredee—and finally succeeded in biting her. Still, It did not seem happy with my attacking it in the back. Finally, I got a particularly good hit in and hurt it a great deal. It howled in pain and turned to me, angrily. Finally, I cut the creature down, but it was a long fight. As it lay on the ground, bleeding, it reverted to the form of a naked man. We dragged the corpse out of camp.

I pray to the gods that my cousin does not have the curse that this creature carried.

17 Chillwind 508

Late in the afternoon, we finally arrived at the gates of Almathriel. It is a beautiful city with tall, thin, natural-looking spires and vine-covered fences and high bridges. One of the most exotic places my cousin and I have traveled thus far. Upon entering through the gates, Azuredee inquired about directions to an inn and was directed to The Mithral Dagger.

As we walked, I did notice that there were, indeed, some half-elves like my cousin within the population here. However, they seemed to be relegated to the lower classes—travelers (like us), laborers, servants, and the like.

The Mithral Dagger was a modest inn that seemed to cater to travelers of all sorts. We arranged to have our laundry done and a bath. A half-elf named Kaerela was fetched to assist us and we settled in to get cleaned up. After our baths, we changed clothes and went down to the common room for a hot meal.

An Elven bard was performing and he was quite good. He played a lute—in much the same fashion as Azuredee, though not up to the standards of Anglorion.

A table full of Elven snobs chuckle at the minstrel and comment that he’s “trying to hard”. I feel myself grow warm with indignation. Azuredee moves forward and places some silver in the man’s jar and smiles at him.

The two converse privately at the stage briefly as the audience looks on and then the bard brings Azuredee up on stage with him! The bard, whose name is Daerthanan, introduces Azuredee to the crowd and begins to play “Love’s Last Kiss.” Then Azuredee begins to play and clearly outstrips the poor lad. But, to his credit, he seems impressed and awed instead of put out.

As my cousin returns to the table, I overhear the snobs say that “she needs to know her place.” This gets my dander up. I tell Azuredee and we discuss what to do about the snobs. At this point, Daerthanan comes over to our table. Introductions are made and he says to Azuredee, “That was quite a performance. I’m very impressed.”

We chit-chat for a bit—or rather, Azuredee and Daerthanan chit-chat. I mostly listen, as is my wont. Azuredee discusses our predilection for travel and Daerthanan discusses his travels as well. As Daerthanan’s been through most of the human lands, Azuredee describes Istvan’s parents in hopes that perhaps he’s heard of them. He thinks that perhaps he has heard of something of them in Osandar.

The two have some shop-talk concerning their bardic careers and Daerthanan orders a pitcher of ale. My cousin is clearly flirting with the man—which doesn’t bother me. It just lacks…subtlety. She asks what there is to see in Almathriel and he suggests the Spire of Magic. Then Azuredee sings and tells the story of how she thwarted a Worg, one of our earliest adventures.

That’s when the ne’er-do-wells at the next table approach us and tell Daerthanan to “leave this half-blood strumpet and come approach some true patrons.”

“What’s your name, friend?” Daerthanan asks, nonplussed.

“I am Kytherol, son of Kytheron,” says the lead ass.

“No strumpets here,” says the bard, “She is my mentor. I can discuss any issues of patronage with your father in the morning.”

“Don’t bother, half-blood lover,” the elf says and he and his entourage saunter out of the common room.

After they leave, Azuredee and Daerthanan have a lively discussion concerning the revenge of bards and then get up to dance. There is no music, but Daerthanan hums for them. Before they get too deep, I bid them good night and shake hands with the bard and then head upstairs to my room.

18 Chillwind 508

Our laundry is finally done so I’m able to change into clean clothes—including a clean tabard. Azuredee wonders how impressive to dress for this Paranthiel Springvale. I say that I plan to wear my tabard—there is a certain degree of prestige and reputation that comes with being a member of the Order, after all. So we agree to go dressed well, but as adventurers. That is who we are and who he is expecting.

After a quick breakfast, we strap on our weapons and armor and head to the estate of this Master Springvale. Azuredee was apparently given directions by her aunt.

The estate of Paranthiel Springvale is more lavish than the Silverthistle compound—and bigger. We are met by liveried guards at the gates. Azuredee gives them her letter and we are bidden to wait. And we wait. And wait. And wait. Eventually, we are brought in by a chamberlain to a sitting room in the main house. He brings us wine and we are bidden to wait—again. At this point, I am nearly at my wit’s end. I am about to storm out of the room and find the chamberlain when he returns and asks us to leave our weapons in the sitting room. We are then escorted into a dining room and served a lunch.

Emerging from a side room as my cousin and I dine is an older elf, probably middle-aged. He wears nice, but comfortable clothing. He introduces himself—this is Paranthiel Springvale. Introductions are made and he joins us for lunch.

After we dine, Master Springvale pulls a bell cord and summons a scribe. He then asks us to describe our adventure in the ruins of the Ysar. Azuredee does an admirable job retelling the tale but without revealing the location of the ruins—that is a House secret. Paranthiel seems distressed about the desecration performed by the goblins. Azuredee describes, as best she can, the intact mosaics. She also reveals that the Ysar apparently designed constructs to defend their treasures. When she describes the snake-like creatures lairing in ruins, Master Springvale nods. “Yes, a Naga. They often have lesser creatures such as goblins as their minions.”

Paranthiel asks Azuredee as bold as you please, “Where are these ruins?”

“You’ll have to negotiate that information with Azuria,” Azuredee says, carefully.

The older elf simply nods sagely. He then says that he may have a task that we may be interested in, if we care to negotiate with him. Apparently he knows the location of another set of Ysar ruins. According to legend, there is a room locked with song. He wants what is locked beyond the room. If we go, we can have whatever else we find. He wants only what is beyond the locked door.

We adjourn to the sitting room to think about his offer. Whatever else, I assure Azuredee that she will be protected. Azuredee is intrigued but wants to go to Yulania afterwards. I assure my cousin that that is fine with me.

We return to the dining room and accept Master Springvale’s proposal. He seems most pleased and tells us that the ruins are thirty miles west of Almathriel. We will leave in the morning, after using the remains of today to provision.

We take our leave of Master Springvale and head into the city to reprovision for our trip through the wilderness and into the ruins. We also take a side trip to the Spire of Magic. Apparently the tower is built on a convergence of ley lines or some such. I couldn’t feel anything, but Azuredee swears she felt power there, though she’s much more magically attuned than I am.

We return to The Mithral Dagger and pack. Azuredee and I meet downstairs for dinner. Fortunately, the snobs from the previous night are nowhere to be seen. Daerthanan is there once again performing and doing a fine job. His finale is “Love’s Last Kiss” and he brings down the house with it. Afterwards, he joins us at our table. He greets Azuredee with a kiss. They have a drink “to business.” The two talk “bard” stuff and are flirty to one another. It’s not too sickening, I suppose. I decide to head upstairs. I can take a hint—Elys Mournbow raised no foolish girl. So I excuse myself and say goodnight.

19 Chillwind 508

Azuredee and I meet for breakfast in the morning. Daerthanan is with her. She seems happy, so I’m glad. Once the meal is done, I shake hands with Daerthanan and he and Azuredee kiss. Then my cousin and I gather up our gear and head out of the city.

The day is cool and quiet—a perfect autumn day. That evening we camp and set up watches. The night is quiet and uneventful.

20 Chillwind 508

If yesterday was the perfect autumn day, today was a nightmare. As we were traveling, we were waylaid by ettercaps and spiders. Azuredee was caught up in a webbed noose trapped and poisoned. I managed to scare the creature off with the viciousness of my attack, but it was harrowing nevertheless. Webs and spiders dropping from trees, nooses catching us off-guard. The clawed horror of the ettercap. But, once again, we persevered and continued on our way through the forest.

Fortunately, we had a peaceful night of rest, though we were on our guard.

21 Chillwind 508

Once again, we had a quiet day of travel through the forest. The stars are bright tonight as I write this. It is peaceful.

22 Chillwind 508

This afternoon we arrived at the site of the ruins. There appear to be a lot of cobblestones here—not really any intact buildings left. Just stones on the ground made of that strange iridescent material we saw before.

Unfortunately, we weren’t alone there. We were attacked by a shadow creature—a powerful one. It managed to drain me of some of my strength before it was dispatched. We looked about for some sort of entry way into an underground chamber. I began to despair of finding anything when Azuredee spoke up—she had found something just as the sun had begun to set. There was a loose slap of that shiny rock. We decided we would move the slab in the morning—just in case there was anything down there that needed to stay down there. In the meantime, we would make camp.

The night, though unsettling, passed without incident.

23 Chillwind 508

I took the crowbar and moved the slab out of the way. It was tough, but I managed. It revealed an old stone staircase heading down. Azuredee casts Light upon my shield and I lead the way down. We see that the corridor continues east or there is a door to the south. Azuredee wants to go south, so we go south. The iron door is locked. We switch places and she removes some tools from her pouch and starts working on the lock. Eventually, it pops open with a click. She opens the door and we go inside. The room has mosaics on the walls of the strange, elongated beings that we’ve come to identify as the Ysar frolicking in the sunshine, dancing to some unheard music. Azuredee searches the room and finds nothing else of interest.

Essentially, there were two types of rooms in these ruins. Empty rooms—at least of anything but Ysar mosaics—and rooms containing golems. Exploring through this wing of the complex, we fought a Wood Golem and a Bone Golem. The Bone Golem was, by far, the nastiest creature we faced. It was tough and imprisoned me in a cage of its bloody bones, crushing her with them. After facing two Wood Golems and a Bone Golem, we have to retreat out of the complex and make camp.

While on watch tonight I faced yet another terror—a harpy. I heard her siren song, but was not lulled by it. I managed to wake Azuredee and we fought it off together. What a day.

24 Chillwind 508

We continued to explore the underground complex today. More mosaics. And another Bone Golem. This one put a cage around Azuredee. We very nearly didn’t make it out of this one. But we managed to pull through. This time, however, we found a new room. This one had an iron door with musical notation etched around the frame. Azuredee found a metal pipe lodged in the doorframe. She played Anglorian, presumably the tune noted around the frame, and the door opened. This revealed a room with a pedestal and above it floated a spindle—a nearly perfect gemstone the size of a halfling’s fist. Azuredee took it and put it in her pack.

As the gem was presumably claimed by Master Springvale, we decided to backtrack and explore some more in hopes of some treasure to justify this venture. We came across yet another Bone Golem and very nearly died. We decided to go outside and camp again and recuperate. Azuredee treated my wounds, both magically and in a more mundane sense. I’m beginning to wonder if this venture was worth it.

25 Chillwind 508

After another round of healing magic, we head back into the complex. In this wing of the complex, we come across another Wood Golem. After dispatching that fiend without too much trouble, Azuredee finds her first trap within the complex—the hard way. A green, noxious gas sprays her in face. Fortunately, she manages to fight off its affects, whatever they might have been. She jimmies the lock and moves past it into a small room. At the next door, she looks for traps and finds none. When she goes to open the door, a gong sounds and an earth elemental appears in the room. It’s a hard slog, but we manage to fight it off.

Finally, we find ourselves at the end of the complex. Sitting on a stone table is a sack of assorted gemstones, a longsword, and a dagger. When Azuredee takes up the blades, she discovers that they are apparently intelligent and can speak to her in her mind. They are called Shadowbreaker and Daybreaker. The sword is female and the dagger is male. They take to Azuredee but feel “off” to me. They don’t much care for me either. They think I’m too “staid”. However, they seem to want to “shatter the darkness,” which sounds like a worthy cause.

We go about the complex, picking up the final rooms we’ve missed just to be thorough. Once Azuredee is satisfied we’ve missed nothing, we exit the complex and load up our mounts and hit the road back to Almathriel.

Journal Entries for Chillwind 508

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