What gentle dream?

Cedric: Epilogue

Although he was somewhat reluctant to do so, Cedric soon returned home to his family and their estate in Audnair to tell of his journey, explain his continued service to Lady Jaela, and introduce Shel. The reunion, news, and meeting were characterized by a mix of celebration and angry shouting. Eventually, the former won out. This happened just in time for Taz to arrive, demanding an audience and dinner with Cedric that he happily gave her.

They enjoyed a properly fancy meal, and she told him a secret that surprised but did not disturb him. In fact, he was somewhat relieved to be able to make sense of the things she’d said to him before, and glad that she trusted him enough to divulge such information.

After a month with his family, Cedric left for Thrane and began his service for Lady Jaela in earnest. He was beside her when she appointed Gareth as a cardinal, and held back whatever protests he may have had, feeling it was not his place. (He was secretly glad for the chance to see more of his friend beyond their occasional meetings, regardless.) Cedric remained strictly at Lady Jaela’s side for quite some time, less for her protection and more for his own education. Slowly, he has been learning to harness his temper and to balance mercy and justice.

Six months later he and Shel married, with his mother’s chagrined blessing. Some friends did not attend the ceremony for obvious reasons, while others were not invited but arrived regardless. More than a few guests recall the food being quite good, but that it caused them to be uncharacteristically drowsy. Now, more than a year later, the pair has an infant daughter, Kithara. Her eyes are startlingly bright silver and her hair is gold, streaked and tipped with a strange silver-blue. Her skin is scattered with patches of black scales. The three of them are quite happy in their home in Thrane, and make visits to the Montique Estate in Aundair when possible.

Cedric has continued to change the stirrings of his blood into something useful and even holy, much to the surprise of some. As an ambassador for the Sovereign Host he speaks often with officials within the Church of the Silver Flame, and enjoys long, religious conversations with them. He takes frequent assignments in and outside of Thrane, many of which happily reunite him with his friends. He has led his first of what he hopes will be many crusades into the Demon Wastes to fight or convert the demons there, and recover artifacts of times long passed.

In short, he is happy.

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Cedric: Entry 25

Things happened with exceeding haste. We confronted and killed Krozen, as well as Gareth’s mother. He was… happy, to carry that much out. I always find it disheartening to know that a familial bond was warped into such an unfortunate thing. Nonetheless, I am glad the event brought Gareth some peace. His mother was an evil woman and that no doubt contributed to the situation.

Once the two of them were rightly killed, Fahrezz entered the room. To the surprise of some but not all of us, he had intended to block off any of Krozen or Nadine’s attempts at escape. Unfortunately, no sooner had he told us as such than Ganitari’ran arrived and killed him, turning him into a floating eye similar to what occurred when Anna was murdered. Both Taz and I shot her, but although our strikes were true she did not so much as blink.

She forced us asleep and in that moment informed us she had taken Lady Jaela as collateral. We were to bring pieces of the diadem to Sarlona, and use it to open the gate, as only mortals were capable of such. When we awoke, I was… conflicted. I had given Lady Jaela my oath as a paladin of Dol Arrah that I would protect her, even at the cost of my own life. And yet, if the Quori were to succeed, although her life would be preserved, it would not be any kind of living at all—for her, or the remainder of the world.

The aid of the gods arrives in truly mysterious forms, I must admit.

As I struggled to reconcile my duties, Shale arrived and told us that we could activate the diadem, and then de-activate it once an “augmenting device” the Quori had made was activated and subsequently destroyed. Doing this would force Ganitari’ran through the barrier between our plane and the Quori’s, weakening her and freeing the souls she retained. This plan would allow us to find and free Lady Jaela, while also preventing the Quori from fulfilling their plans.

We quickly agreed to the plan, and set about making preparations for our journey. I noticed Taz was distraught, although she tried quite hard to lie and tell me she was fine. I fear she, like many, feels that showing true care for others, or sadness, is a sign of weakness. I embraced her and told her that it was not shameful for her to mourn Fahrezz.

We spoke with Captain Malik in order to find Princess Diana in order to bring her back to her mother. She was sleeping, and although initially frightened by my appearance she quickly agreed to accompany us once I explained we had been sent by her mother. It was a long carriage ride to return to her mother’s castle, made longer by my worries for Lady Jaela. When we finally returned, the queen and her daughter joyously reunited. She then told us she would give us a ship with which to travel to Sarlona—a skyship.

It was late in the evening when we arrived, and Gareth was somewhat rude (albeit well meaning) in our proceedings with the queen, insisting that she allow herself to sleep. When I reprimanded him for his behavior, Deth interjected to say that instead I ought to find Shel and spend the evening with her. I had very little desire to begrudge him that suggestion, and once our preparations for the next day were finished I bathed and found Shel in her room. I doubt I would have been able to sleep without her… distractions, and without her beside me that night.

Regardless, I still got little sleep; I awoke at dawn as always to offer my prayers to Dol Arrah, and beg her aid. I rightly surmised that now, more than ever, we would require it. With some aid from the queen we obtained the diadem, and in the afternoon we boarded the skyship. Regrettably but understandably, Shel remained behind.

Immediately upon our boarding, Taz seemed shocked and even appauled by something, although she refused to say and instead excused herself to her quarters. Gareth and Deth spoke to a particularly dapper looking crewmember, who offered them a tour although he seemed unsettled by Deth. I went below deck, as traveling by air is even more unsettling than traveling by sea. Eventually Afina grew bored with my insistence on reading, and begged me to go up onto the deck so she might see more of it. I begrudgingly complied, and was soon met by Pneu (who was wearing a crew uniform, as is her habit, and told me to “stay out of trouble”) and the crewmember who had given a tour to Gareth and Deth.

The crewmember is not an entirely pleasant man, although perhaps I simply misinterpreted his intent. He seemed to find my admission of disliking heights somewhat amusing, and said that I would burn up in the ring surrounding the ship far before I hit the ground. I can hope that it was his attempt at comforting me…

Near the end of the second day, I heard an explosion and at its source found Taz, unsurprisingly. She was yelling at the same crewmember that had given Gareth and Deth tours. From what I was able to surmise from their shouting, his name is Val and he is a person from her past. She was also upset by him to the point that I was able to follow not more than three paces behind them without her noticing until much later. At that point she attempted to get me to leave, but I refused on the grounds of preventing bloodshed. She did not argue that, and instead proceeded to interrogate Val to the bst of her ability.

I learned a good number of strange things from their conversation as well. Val mentioned that once Taz had had an Adam’s apple, and was able to tell that Deth was a Quori because of the monocle he wore. He was not evil, but the way he set Taz on edge did not incline me to trust him nonetheless. She was insistent on knowing why he was here, but he told her that it did not concern her. Eventually she stormed off, and I followed her.

I inquired if Val was in fact from her past, one of the people she “owes”. She was very reluctant to answer my questions, but eventually admitted that they had exchanged words, blows, and even blood. I imagine he may be the closest she has to family in that case, in a strange way. I offered to protect her, but she declined it and even went so far to say that it was a matter of “honor” that she be the one to kill him. I cannot even begin to fathom where or why Taz began to keep such codes, and strangely enough I found myself nearly wishing that she would not…

During the course of her conversation, I also asked her about the comment Val had made pertaining to her possession of an Adam’s apple, and she dismissed it as him simply having a propensity for lying. While it did not seem as if Taz was lying to me when she said so, I cannot help but wonder if that was the entire story… She seemed flustered to the point of insisting I leave her room, but after I did so I returned shortly after as my worries were not yet assuaged. I did not enjoy intruding on her hospitality in such a way, but I did not wish her to come to any harm from this man and felt learning more about him would be helpful in achieving this goal.

Surprisingly, without any reluctance she invited me back in and even proffered me hot chocolate. I managed to speak more about her past with her, and learned that she and Val have known one another since they were children. However, he is older than her. I found that odd, given that she is an elf and he is a human… But it is not entirely unheard of, either. Apparently, the man at the top of the organization they had both been a part of had encouraged them to be rivals, and this animosity has remained ever since. However, I did at least get her to promise that she would stay safe and not cause the ship to explode. With that, I left.

The remainder of the journey was surprisingly uneventful. We arrived in a large town in Sarlona filled with strange, angular, and crystalline architecture. If the circumstances were different I would have liked to learn more about the methods of construction, or the structural and artistic theories behind such buildings. There were guards waiting for us, and they wasted no time in bringing us to a very large, cathedral-like building. On the way the way, the manner in which they spoke to us was even haughtier than Deth’s normal way of conversing, and I had to hold Gareth back. I had not thought I would ever live to see such a day.

Eventually, we found Ganitari’ran and Taz advised us all to stay at least thirty feet from her. Of course, she refused to show us a sign of her good faith by showing us Lady Jaela, and threatened Deth as well. We all held our tongues and set up the diadem in the center of the room. It is worthy to note that the perimeter of the room was surrounded by armed guards, but Deth was able to surmise that they were an illusion save for four.

Once the diadem was arranged and activated, the entire room began to vibrate fiercely. An enormous hole appeared above the diadem, and I began to cast what spells I knew to increase strength and competence in a fight. Furthermore, I was finally able to finally put to use the blood I was given as a weapon in Dol Arrah’s honor: I sensed the roiling in my blood I feel before every battle change to a protective, lightless glow, much like when I channel the goddess’s radiance. I believe with more devoted study I may yet find other uses for the sulfur in my veins.

The battle itself was surprisingly easy. Although we were faced with destroying the amplifying device itself, fighting the guards, and finally fighting Ganitari’ran, the wounds we suffered were not especially severe, and it all ended quite quickly. Furthermore, once the amplifying device itself was destroyed, Deth’s body and Deth himself (in his Quori form) separated and fought side by side. It was an interesting sight, to speak the least of it.

When Deth’s body defeated Ganitari’ran, eyes scattered from her body. I recognized Anna’s and Fahrezz’s, as far as I was able to tell. Unfortunately, Deth had returned to the plane of dreams while his body had remained behind. I immediately set to work finding Lady Jaela, while the others took care of finding Deth once more on the Quori’s plane. I found Lady Jaela in a holding cell, unharmed but unconscious. I carried her back up to the main room, and then set about searching through the room for anything that may be of use to us. I found a room filled with gold, and filled all our packs with it. To take such spoils from a rightly defeated, evil foe is no sin, and I knew that Gareth and Deth had a great need of funds.

Pneu brought the skyship to us, and as we departed any attempts at attacking were fended off by the great black dragon who has aided us throughout this quest. He flew alongside us for a time as well. The remainder of our time on the ship was filled with drunken revelry on all our parts, and debauchery on the others’… Although when Gareth propositioned me for the umpteenth time, I did tell him I would consider allowing him to join once, with Shel’s consent.

Lady Jaela woke up half way through the flight, so I greatly slackened my alcohol intake to better watch over her. She imbibed a small amount, and joined in the more innocent celebrations. When we finally returned to Thrane, Shel and Seeker were there to greet with the most wonderful news: Anna had learned to place her soul within Seeker’s body! All this time it had been her, and with Ganitari’ran’s death she was whole once more. The others and I were overjoyed to learn of this!

In the following days a great deal happened. Lady Jaela was re-instated without any resistance, and with her restored powers she made quick work of Shale’s employer. With Shale’s help Deth and Fahrezz acquired bodies through unusual but consensual means. Deth remained in the one he had from the start, which I found only mildly surprising. Also, Shel and I did decide to accept Gareth’s request. It was… enjoyable and strange, but will not be repeated.

The nine of us all met a final time to say our goodbyes. Taz asked to come visit me, and I told her that of course such thing would be possible. I told Anna to remain safe, and asked Terra to watch over her. The both said they would, in their own manners. I reminded Gareth to bring Deth with him some of the times when we visit, and they both of course agreed. Although it is unorthodox, I asked Lady Jaela if I might remain in her service as her personal knight and ambassador for the Sovereign Host. She happily agreed, stating I still had much to learn from her. I have no doubt of that. Finally I asked Shel if she would stay with me as I served in Thrane, and she agreed. My heart felt nearly full to bursting when she said so.

It was sorrowful to say goodbye, but I recognize that such is often the nature of our lives. I have completed one journey, but there are many yet to come!

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Pneumonia: Lessons in Love

So, we invade Crowzespa’s tower and the big bony fellah broke the window. I thought it was a little rude; somebody will have to clean that up. Then Gareth’s mom made Deth sick so I put her to sleep. I was trying to put Crowman to sleep but, he was running about causing a ruckus. So Deth put him to sleep. Later crazy eye lady showed up and invited us to her castle. On the way I learned how to be a sky captain. Taz was playing around with her friend for awhile, I warned her not to make a mess, but she did anyway; some people’s goats. When we got the the crystal castle of eye lady she threw a party for us and we got to meet all her friends. Once again Taz started breaking things and Cedric impressionable as he is started breaking things too. That’s okay though everyone had so much fun even Deth came to the party. After the party I, being the most level headed, was elected the designated sky captain and flew them home.

Most of us went our own ways after that last party. I decided to open my own sky restaurant and inn The Winded Sailor and travel the world with my crack team of elite chefs. Deth and Gareth like to come along for the sight seeing. We don’t let them cook.

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Taz: Coda

One week after the demise of Ganatari’ran, the airship newly christened the Hauntling’s Revenge takes off from the city of Flamekeep with Captain Taz Amadre, First Mate Val Penumbra, and Public Relations Associate Fahrezz Ress.

Three weeks after, a fetching young elf woman shows up at the estate of the Montique family. By her dress, she is a person of great importance. She asks for an audience with Sir Cedric. “I have something to tell him,” she says, “and besides, he’s invited me to dinner.”

Four months after, there is a new gang of pirates in the skies. Called the Revenants, they quickly become known as a gang to be feared, although they follow their own peculiar code of honor. That code, however, seems to change on a whim.

They often take jobs for the Keeper of the Flame. Their catering arrangements are second to none.

Six months after, the Revenants take over the pirate gang known as the Cloud Ghosts. Their interim leader, Maith Barra, meets with Captain Amadre. He emerges from the room looking rather shaken…but also somewhat relieved, as if a weight has been lifted from him.

One year after, the gang known as the Heart of Sharn mysteriously collapses overnight. There are whispers, among Sharn’s underworld, that the Heart’s downfall was arranged by two disaffected former Heart hauntlings: the Faceless and the Shadow. It was said that the girl known as the Faceless could become your own mother and you wouldn’t know the difference. It was said that the boy known as the Shadow could remove your organs in alphabetical order in less time than it takes to gut a fish.

And while there can be no verifying such rumors, it is true that Father Reaper, the leader of the Heart, was found disassembled in just such a fashion, with the words “Our thanks for your many mercies” written on the wall above him.

In the skies, the Revenants ply their trade, stopping here, stopping there. They pay their friends visits. They grant their friends favors. And the captain, a woman of many names and many faces—not faceless at all, in the end—looks up at the sky and smiles, as if she knows something others do not.

It is in her nature, like flying, like the taste of a secret on one’s tongue.

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Taz: Revenge is a Dish Best Served Flambe

We’re alive. Even the ones whom we did not believe to be so, which is a relief to all of us. And Ganatari’ran is dead.

The beginning.

I returned to my room in the evening to find V in my bed. Reading a novel, for all the world like he owned the place. We…had a chat.

He did not mean to kill me. He confessed to being upset at the circumstances under which I had left him—the breaking of the Deal—however, he was not interested in claiming that particular debt. Apparently, he left the Heart shortly after I did. He’s as much of an exile from home as I am, now.

We have changed. Both of us. In some ways. Not all. It is odd to see him express emotion so readily. He admitted to missing me. We are tied together, the two of us. Blood oaths are not so easily broken.

He offered me the loan of his true-seeing monocle, making a point that he expected it back. Did he do so as an act of trust? Trust? From those who trust no one, Father Reaper’s hauntling children? But we are no longer his, either of us, and we may trust whom we choose. Perhaps it is more accurate to say that it was his leverage. A Deal to make me return. We have not changed entirely, after all.

The night, though it ended without a winner, was nonetheless most enjoyable.

I summoned Shale for a bit of advice regarding Ganatari. I figured that since he’s been around the planes a few times, he might have picked up a few tips. He described Fahrezz’s state as imprisoned, rather than dead, when I inquired, and confirmed that killing Ganatari should free all the eyes. He also gave the helpful tip to not let her touch you—her nasty little soul snatch attack, which he estimated to operate within a range of around 30 feet. He expected this range to diminish after we grated her soul.

I prepared 7 bombs, 1 extract of bomber’s eye, 1 shield extract, 1 true strike extract, and 1 invisibility extract. We landed in Dar Katan. The architecture was very angular. I had to resist the urge to go around fiddling with things. Psychological warfare is an excellent form of warfare.

Ganatari’s guards were waiting for us. They took us to the cathedral she was lurking in. I placed Varick’s monocle on my eye and followed the others inside. The first thing that greeted our eyes was a SHIT TON of Quori in Inspired bodies standing along the walls. Ganatari and four others were in the middle. However—through my other eye, with the monocle in place, the Quori along the walls vanished. Illusions only. I discreetly let the others know, upon which they looked much more sanguine about our chances.

I confess, the only thought on my mind at the time was killing Ganatari. Everything else was incidental. I drank a shield extract to protect myself, and set out to deactivate the control panels for the portal. The others fought off the Quori while I dealt with them. Cedric also destroyed one, and helped me to destroy the last.

Ganatari was yanked through. Unfortunately, so were the other Quori—whose Inspired bodies had been killed, thanks to Gareth being a badass. Pneu was also highly impressive. Deth’s true form also was pulled through, leaving Hal’Luque to his own devices.

I drank my true strike extract and shot her. It was very satisfying. I shot her again, and again, and again…

And Hal’Luque, of all people, finished her off. The kid’s grown over the past few months, clearly. Not the same shivering wreck of the land of cults and mosquitoes.

The eyes all flew off. One spun around Terra for a bit before leaving; another came to hover by me. Right between my legs, in fact. No question who THAT was.

Cedric took off to find Jaela—who had been kidnapped. I may have forgotten to mention. Last week’s entry was not up to my usual standard. We followed him down to the prison cells. On the way, Deth began fading—back to the dream world. Gareth pointed out that he would be in danger there, as we had just destroyed the Quori’s hopes of preventing their annihilation/change in temperament/whatever. Hal’Luque, Gareth, and I all set off to the dream world. I requested a sleep cracker of Pneu, but she decided to STAB me instead. Really, that girl is incorrigible. I’ll never know what’s going on inside that head of hers.

We didn’t have long to wait. Soon after we entered the dream world, Deth found us—seeking his body, no doubt. And…

Fahrezz found us too.

I may have been a trifle overenthusiastic in my greeting.

Deth took the opportunity to mock me, but really, HE can’t talk.

Fahrezz sent us off again before the other Quori could notice our presence. We awoke to find our bags stuffed to the brim with gold coins. Cedric had apparently discovered the treasure vault along with Lady Jaela. I AM SO PROUD OF HIM. Pneu was gone. No sooner had we inquired about her than the airship showed up. With her piloting it, no less. Varick had decided to be the figurehead on the ship. He has become frivolous in his maturity, I can see. I returned his monocle. I believe he was pleased to see me.

Our old friend Blacky flew by as we took off. I never did get his name. I will have to track him down in the future to ask.

The journey back to Thrane was uneventful. Much drinking and amusement were had by all.

Gareth took me aside one evening and asked point-blank what I was. I could have lied to him. He most likely would have believed me. But I did not. I am tired of hiding in the shadows. Besides, I am quite sure that he will tell no one. He understands more than most, I think, the ways in which people seek to use your advantageous qualities to their own benefit.

We were greeted by Shel and Seeker when we landed. Cedric ran to Shel, while Seeker ran to…Terra. Much my confusion. Then he—she—started speaking.

It was Anna! Anna had put part of her soul into a warforged! She is indeed more clever than I gave her credit for! So Ganatari destroyed her mortal body, but not all of her. Most ingenious. I was more pleased than I care to admit to see her well.

We reinstalled Jaela in her rightful place, upon which she summoned Shale’s employer and dropped a meteor on him. Shale appeared—he must have been keeping track—to seal our Bargain. We were able to make our payment in full, much to my relief. I do so hate being in debt. He got Deth and Fahrezz sorted out, and then we destroyed the diadem. It shall not trouble this world again. (That sounded properly heroic.)

I purchased Varick’s airship from Queen Dian. I need SOME way to keep an eye on that man, after all. Besides, I have found that the pirate life holds many advantages.

And so we parted. However, such is the nature of those whom you have granted…sentiment…that I am sure our paths will cross again.

Some, perhaps, sooner than others.

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Taz: Upon the Airship

It’s him.

It’s him.

Not now, not here. Not…

Fuck.

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Taz

We got Crozen and his lackeys.

Ganatari’ran got Fahrezz.

Shale says we can put her soul through a cheese grater and then kill her.

Good.

Deth says that perhaps Fahrezz will regenerate after we do so.

If he remains dead

I need to speak with Shale further.

If he remains dead, they will all die. Slowly. Painfully.

I feel rather odd. Not myself. Somewhat…lost.

I do not understand.

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Cedric: Entry 24

Things have been exceedingly eventful as of late. We encountered the Lord of Blades and after engaging him in combat, were able to wrest the stone from him. It was no easy feat, but we all survived and fared well enough. However I have concerns about Terra’s ability to function within a group, and her propensity for rash behavior. She makes my own temper seem calm in comparison, I fear. However, she holds some grudging respect for Gareth, and he has agreed to help keep her cooperative, as it were. He has likewise agreed to help keep Pneu in line.

To speak of Gareth for a moment, we had a wonderfully constructive conversation regarding faith, heroics, and our fates after this journey has finished. Speaking with him invariably clears my mind, and as always I am reminded how grateful I am for our friendship. I believe it will not be exceedingly difficult to continue it, although I will perhaps need to make greater efforts to assist him with his personal difficulties. He can be a good man; he must simply find the desire and courage to be one.

In case things had gone awry with the Lord of Blades we asked Shel and Seeker to travel with the carriage to a border town with the Madstone in tow. Travel to this town was not exceedingly difficult although it was pressing, especially after I spoke with Fahrezz one evening and learned that Shale had contacted Shel. I also learned a great deal about the movements of the Quori, and the political state within Thrane.

Once we reunited with Shel and Seeker we conversed with Shale, and negotiated a means of assuring his un-involvement in matters: he requires that we kill his employer. While I would normally balk at such a mercenary task, in this case it is acceptable given the nature of this employer. Additionally, Shale agreed to aid us with the Quori should it prove necessary, and gave me a glowing green stone of similar texture to the Madstone with which to call him with.

After we parted, we were quick to travel to meet with Queen Diani of Thrane, in her summer home of Silvercliff Castle. Her daughter had been made the next Keeper of the Flame and thus Krozen’s pawn, much to her dismay. We spoke and she provided us with a means for us to enter Flamehold. Once there we left Taz and Penu to scout the behavior of Krozen and the new Keeper. The remainder of us stayed within the confines of Queen Diani’s castle for nearly week while they did so. At the end of this time we formulated a plan, and will be carrying it out shortly. I have concerns about the parts of it that involve scaling walls, but with luck the potions Taz procured for us will effectively assist us with that.

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Pneumonia: Lapdance

I joined the clergy for a period of time. It wasn’t as fun as being a conductor or dancer, but clerics have nice wardrobes; at least these ones did. Wearing silly clothes and talking about pointless things was fun for awhile and I may even come back some day and try again. I found out about crow’spen and his big tower. He is a bad guy blah blah blah, we have to kill him. Really, we could just lock him in a room so they could talk him to death. I decided the easiest way to move was to go look for myself. So I became one of the priesty things and walked about. Later I climbed the big tower and found a big bony man and Gareth’s mom. It is a small world after all, never know who will turn up in what tower. After I found where Crosben slept I relayed the information to Gareth and the whoevers else that were loitering in is room. Then we all went shopping so we could make the people good at climbing that weren’t so good at climbing while entering the previously described tower of which I had climbed before so that we can kill Cruffin in his sleep. Theoretically.

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Taz: The Best Companions Are Always Those of Questionable Taste

We tracked the carriage to the border of Thrane. It wasn’t too difficult; they had left quite the trail. I crafted an experimental invisibility potion. It was a great success.

Of course, getting across the border wasn’t going to be easy. I was forced to take matters into my own hands in order to prevent the others from blundering around and alerting people to our presence. Tais knew a man called Captain Malik back in Flamehold: an important man, and well-respected. I assumed his shape (out of sight of my companions, of course), and had a discussion with the border guards. I informed them that I had a very important mission for them in the next town over. They fell for it. Effortless. Fools.

We followed the carriage’s trail to the town of Nathyrr, and soon found the carriage parked outside of an inn. We were directed to room 201, where Shel and Seeker were waiting for us. But they weren’t alone. Our good friend Shale was with them. Seeker was attempting to beat him off with a pipe, which was so far from effective as to merely be amusing. One entertainment point for Seeker. Shale didn’t even seem to notice.

He wished to speak business with us. He was after the diadem, of course. His “client,” an entity that he would not identify, but described as “wearing yellow.” Apparently we mortals don’t have a word for what he is. I asked him if he knew what his client wanted it for, but he said that it wasn’t his concern. He wasn’t lying, but he wasn’t telling us everything he knew, either. I wonder if Fahrezz’s surmise was correct…

When we offered to make a Bargain to leave the diadem in our hands rather than obtaining it for his client, he seemed tempted. After all, this world is a market for him, and I daresay he finds us interesting. I offered up trading rights in Thrane to sweeten the deal. But he did not want to anger his client or risk his reputation by breaking his initial Bargain. He said that if his client happened to die before he could complete the task, however…

He offered to transport us to Leng in order to take care of this matter, but Leng does not seem like a hospitable place, and the yellow man would be far more at home there than we are. We would also pay Shale to transport us, of course. We were all rather reluctant to face this creature on his home ground, so to speak. Shale said that you needed great strength of will to prevent the plane from changing you. And would that be so bad? What might you change into? He did say that, at the height of her power, Jaela would likely be able to bring said individual here instead.

Accord. Shale will hold off on any action toward obtaining the diadem. For our part, once we overthrow Crozen and get Jaela back on the throne, we’ll yank the yellow man here and kill him. Then we’re free to destroy the diadem as we will.

Shale left Cedric a stone with which we can contact him, and left.

Having solved that, the discussion turned to strategy. Cedric said that Crozen had put a substitute Keeper in place, a daughter of the Queen. The Queen is not too happy about having her daughter spirited away to be Crozen’s hostage and pawn. Cedric believes that she could be a valuable ally. We headed to Silvercliff Castle to speak with her.

Cedric actually handled himself quite well with the castle guards; I’m proud of him. One usefulness point to Cedric. Even if he did give his real name, which I wish he wouldn’t have. We ARE wanted here, after all. I made sure to dress my best for the occasion.

The Queen was rather brusque; apparently Cedric is the only one of consequence in her eyes. I am no underling to be disregarded.

Anyway, she reported that Crozen has been running everything in the church, making her daughter a figurehead. We would have to take out Crozen in order to rescue her. Gareth’s mother is apparently in the cathedral as well. Grand.

The most important thing to gain in an assassination mission is intelligence. After much planning, it was decided that Pneu and I would enter the cathedral to gather information while the others kept a low profile. We needed to figure out Crozen’s routine and obtain an accurate map of the cathedral’s layout. Terra knows the value of a good plan. One usefulness point to Terra. Before I set out, I had to run an errand for Gareth. He had some pent-up aggression to work out, so I found him a man to fight. While on the lookout for one, I made sure that Tais was not wanted in connection with Lady Jaela. Nothing. Excellent.

I found Gareth’s burly man and brought him back, then commenced my mission.

It’s a shame to see how Crozen has corrupted the church. Most of the people there fear and detest him, yet they still allow him to do as he pleases. Have the priests of the Silver Flame grown so cowardly, so apathetic? We are supposed to be a force for good…though the spirit of tolerance has been rather lacking in the faith as of late. I am sure that once Lady Jaela is restored to her proper place, she will help the others see the light. Enough. Report.

Crozen spends most of his time in his tower, other than having daily meetings with the cardinals. These meetings always occur at a set time. He also visits the Keeper at least every other day, although the times which he does this vary. There were no magical traps on the door that I could discern. The only other entrance is a window about 200 feet up. None of the others knew much about the place, although Dorrin said that Crozen’s allergic to shellfish. Maybe we can poison him. Distilled essence of shrimp in his morning coffee? (Yes, because THAT wouldn’t be obvious at all.) Enough. The princess stays in Lady Jaela’s room and never leaves it, although it is unclear whether that is her choice or Crozen’s.

I spent a week thus. It was good to be back home. Except…

I had a discussion with THAT MAN. I wanted to obtain his measure. I know that there is some good in everyone, but he is most definitely testing that theory. He kept referring to me as ‘Taz,’ regardless of my protests that I was nothing like her, or any of the others, for that matter. He thinks we are all the same, or rather, different facets of the same personality. He does not understand. I have a life here. The others all have lives too, though what they do with them is sometimes…questionable. Tirynna is the only one who behaves even remotely well, in spite of her larceny. Still, I believe her heart is in the right place, which I CANNOT say for the others.

Fahrezz asked what would happen if one of us wanted a life permanently. I couldn’t say. I would miss life, but still…I would give up in favor of one of them, if I could be assured that they wouldn’t go on to commit evil deeds. Sadly, I cannot be sure that’s the case.

We are not the same person. We are not. We don’t even know who Taz is, not really. I am well aware that I am a construction, a cipher. But…then what does that leave me?

He called me out.

No one’s done that.

No masks. Only Taz.

It was…

He said that he liked this form. Because it was me, in a way that none of the others were. He remains interested. I believe he may always be so. He is attached. There is no going back now.

He…

He does not mean to use me as a pawn.

It is strange.

We reconvened. Pneu had also obtained excellent information. One usefulness point to Pneu. She said that there’s a “large gentleman” in the tower with Crozen and Gareth’s mother. When pressed, she described him as big and bony, “like Papa Gareth.” Another golem. Grand.

We made plans. During the night, we will go up the tower on a rope, or climb up, and sneak in through the window. Given the rest of our companions, I do not think that we will remain unnoticed for long, but if Pneu and I can get in first while invisible, we should be able to surprise them. Jaela could convince the other guards not to aid them, which she is confident in her ability to do. She could even explain matters to good old Captain Malik.

Preparations. I found a contact in the marketplace and sold that armor and spear. Obtained: 2005 gold, 5 silver. I also purchased two potions of spider climb. I gave one to Cedric. He was so touched that he gave me a greatsword to sell off, saying he’d known I was trying to save money. One usefulness point to Cedric. Sold for 1025 gold.

Night fell. We headed up the tower, most of us climbing, while Gareth used a rope and carried Jaela on his back. Upon making it to the window, we discovered that Crozen and Gareth’s mother were in the bed together. Ew. There was also a bone golem, which was the more pressing threat. As soon as we opened the window, it smashed the sill, sending the rope sailing to the ground. Luckily, Terra had lent Gareth a ring of featherfall, so they were unhurt. Pneu caught the rope and attached it to the sill again. Excellent. One usefulness point to Pneu.

Time to go kick some ass. And test out my new extract.

Ranking of companions:
Fahrezz
Seeker: Entertainment value- 1 point.
Pneu: Usefulness- 2 points.
Cedric: Usefulness- 2 points.
Terra: Usefulness- 1 point.

Ranking totals to date:
Fahrezz: All of the points.
Seeker: Entertainment value- 1 point.
Jaela: Usefulness- 13 points. Entertainment value- 8 points.
Pneu: Usefulness- 30 points. Entertainment value- 30 points.
Gareth: Usefulness- 28 points. Entertainment value- 16 points.
Deth: Usefulness- 21 points. Entertainment value- 20 points.
Cedric: Usefulness- 25 points. Entertainment value- 9 points.
Terra: Usefulness- 1 point.

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