Starless Night

A New Journey
Introduction of Imsh

It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long since I left the dark realm. Though it took months of traveling to reach the realm of light, and another month to reach the town I’ve heard of. Angelwharf it is called. I learned after my arrival with my trusty mare, that this is the second life of Angelwharf, apparently boggards raided the village long before I showed up. It’s governed by a council, the heroes of the town, and founders of this new kingdom. Lucien, Haeri, Stehlen, Chakka, Largo, they were the original five I guess, not including the one who left, the dwarven clan known as Thunderhammer. Over time others joined them, I’ve heard of the Exalted named Maggot, an Elf named Tatheria who was companions with a dinosaur, there is even a goblin pyromancer named Grimm among the group. The latest they found on their travels a dwarf named Piper.

When I arrived in town the group was off exploring to the south, I settled in, but felt the need to do more. When rumors began spreading of undead to the north, I signed up, my greataxe at my side.

My greataxe, a good companion, if you can call it that. Has slain many a foe, along my travels. I remember when I first wielded her. A innate connection between me and this weapon of choice. I remember earning her enhancements from my master, both before and after my freedom. After a while I did seek out more adventures, but my time as a gladiator would not be forgotten. I was a master with this greataxe all through my trials… and I overcame them with no problem. The Champion of the arena I was, that titled earned me my freedom, and my pay since I began to work for my once former master.

I saved up and bought the mare Hellfire from him, she was a fine horse, and a gifted one at that. Granted no beast master could tame her, but she had no problems when I was the one doing the training. He gladly sold her to me when he saw that connection himself. With her and my greataxe at my side, I see few problems ahead for me. But time will tell.

As I stated I signed up to go to the north and investigate the dwarven undead rumors. With me was Piper, the dwarf magus. Lori, a halfling cleric, and Motley an Elven ranger. I did leave Hellfire back in town of course, the others don’t have horses of their own, and a pack mule would be demeaning to her abilities.

We can at least confirm the rumors are true. No doubt from the dwarven ruins, a spell awakens these ancient dead, and the breaking of that spell is our objective.

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Bloody Chickens' Shack of Dwarf and Mildew.
Largo's Entry

I’ve lost count the number of days from the lake incident. At the time we paid little attention to the aftermath. The light did no damage save for the deafening sound it emitted from the portal’s destruction. Admittedly though, I can definitely feel a difference over the course of these passing days. It is hard to describe the sensation, the closest thing I can think of would be a burning in my stomach that surges throughout my extremities. It surprisingly feels good, especially so when the spread tingles through my fingers.

Tingling aside, Stelhen and Chakka gave us word they were heading back to Angelwharf. Tatheria tagged along with the brothers for strength in numbers. The rest of us went the other way to grab more land for the settlement. Occasional boggards were of minor obstacle save for the wildlife attempting to eat us alive. Other than that, the day was abnormally pleasant until we got surrounded by birds. Oversized chickens that peck and slash and I’m still unsure what they were called. Blood-something or whatever…

It is probably just me, I’m starting to notice the word blood as the first name on each creature we encounter. I understand the collapse means a fresh start on a bestiary, but that is not excusable for overusing the word ‘blood’ on each meat-eater you stumble upon! So far the only thing original happens to be the cursed Monkey Trees and their carcass-smelling sap!

Either or, we all pulverized the large poultry and our focus was on the massive derelict of a shack. Upon entering, the stagnant stink from the inside invaded our sinuses with a smell far worse that the fragging pustules from the croc-frog aberration from before. In our attempts to acclimate to the offending waft, we noticed a bounded, famished Dwarf sitting in mold and mildew. I rubbed the tears from my eyes to confirm the whether she be illusion or not.

Upon releasing a questioning captive. It turns out she be a bit more aloof than anyone else I’ve met so far. It is not a bad thing but I cannot see through her. The only person that came close to that sort of bizarre sense of socializing is Motley of all people. The thing with her though, while she’s amazing at stabbing; she’s practically retarded when it comes to actually talking. The worst she’ll do is stare down at something or someone will not blink for hours. Won’t say anything too, which has caused some violence even before the wagon ride.

Still, we’ve only met Piper and heard her out. She’s seems determined to find some honest work. Can’t say anything bad about that. So if anything, I say Trig may want a quick talk with her about employment. After all, two Dwarves in the forge may mean a complete arsenal for the settlement’s militia. But that is a big MAY should that ever happen. Because you know… War. It may not happen now but I definitely do feel that something is coming. So just to be safe, once we get back to Angelwharf I might stay a bit and build more solidarity between the factions.

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In and out of the Cave, and return to exploring
Lucien's Entry.

After clearing the former shrine we found ourselves empowered by Iomedae. At least based on the symbols on the armor we found, we believe it to have once been her temple, and her last hope for her power’s resting place, the glow faded afterwords. We kept our promise and split the loot, made sure to give extra to the giant or troll Katah’la(Who developed hard feelings for Grimm).

After feeling powerful we returned to exploring to the south. We actually stumbled upon a giant’s hut guarded by some wet brambles and terror birds… the brambles weren’t much problem cut right through them… the birds… not much of a problem either, some arrows through the brambles and we took them down.

We went into the hut and there was a young dwarf shackled up inside… she didn’t look too well. I want to work on the manacles only to find they were bolted shut, not locked… not much I could do. Offered to use her war-hammer on them links… but she wanted to be a coward and said no. In turn we just went into her pack and pulling out her blacksmith tools broke the links that way. Turns out she’s a Magus, and a smith.

We returned to town dealing with Trig, and getting ready for the monthly council meeting. As such we found Lori, Haeri’s wife, and Motley, one of the Neothelid experiments that came with Largo, prepping to go out to the north. With them was newcomer Unglar, a beastly looking half-orc wielding a greataxe. With the meeting of the council they left for the north, towards those dwarven ruins Gehrak left us for.

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Swimming in Blood, Bathing in Light.
Largo's Entry

I will admit that I let my guard down during the final skirmish in the lake. It was just right after I swung at one of the boggards is when I head a voice faintly in my head. It didn’t sound either provoking nor threatening. Instead, the whisper was asking me to leave with a sort of sincerity behind its tone. Would be rude to disobey so I followed suit of its advice and abandon the fight altogether, much to the chagrin of everybody.

Honestly, I didn’t even notice the sounds of protest the group was jeering towards me. It was until I reached the exit when the whisper was gone from my head and realization hits. Fuck me, I was tagged with a suggestion spell! Immediately, I turned back swam as fast as I could. I followed both the trail of dead Skum and the smell of their blood staining the water. But by the time I reached my colleagues the fight was finished with them still standing. Albeit a bit peeved at my display of turning tail, but were understandable about the situation.

We took advantage of this peace and scoured the area. Only thing of notice was the brain-dead Aboleth stuck in between the rocks. I was in shock, to see this bastards again was still too soon. Despite it being a vegetable I still feel a sense of dread just being near these creatures for my time as their slave still haunts me. Day after day being forced to hand mince the corpses of my people into chum, and for what? As a fucking snack for these behemoths. Fives years worth of blood stained my hands, but either out of a Godsend or bad luck, my captors then shoved me into the sickening grasp of the Neothelids and their weird science.

I shake my thoughts from the past as we put the Aboleth out of its misery. After the mercy kill, Haeri of all people located the largest horde of copper coins as of yet. We then split the money and gave a fair portion to the Sea Troll and bid her farewell. Along the with the investigation, we located a crown and a journal detailing a possible invasion of the Twilight Expanse involving the slime and some ancient magic. With the Skum dead, we wouldn’t have to worry about that anytime soon. But just to be sure, we explore more of the caves to locate and destroy the cause.

Upon discussion about the consumption of Aboleths and its possible aftereffects. We finally found the source of the glow that was illuminating the lake. A portal made by the slime from our now deceased fish overlord. Grimm was hesitant in sampling the secretion. Myself was still curious in eating aboleths, I tasted only a drop of it. Salty at first but I felt a burning in my stomach that felt worst with each passing second. I immediately clutched my stomach and bobbed about in the water while everyone else begin to wail on the gelatinous construction.

Out of everyone that were prodding the giant portal to the unknown. Chakka seems to be the only one that was making some process. Most likely due his falchion gaining power from being dowsed in Aboleth blood. Upon his strikes, the dome exploded and the only thing I remember after that was a blinding light, followed by a bang, and then it was all gone within seconds.

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Justible Hate and a Brief Confession.
Largo's Entry

We made it to the lake. Near the shore was what remains of a temple, whatever that claimed it before was either taken down or swept away by erosion. Either or, its former holy grounds were being desecrated by unwelcomed squatters. Skum and Boggards without any doubt have infested the ruins. We moved stealthily, or tried to when Tatheria chose the worst possible time to be clumsy and blows our cover completely.

Immediately we engaged, with numbers on our side we were able to take down two without any sweat and fortunate enough to net the mage, putting him under our mercy. Of course, I wanted to break his arms to prevent him from casting and while Stelhen was all for it, Lucien, Gods bless him, reminded me about being humane towards our surrendered foe. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand the value of life. But these Skum- They hold little to no respect to other life save for their masters. Absolute sadists and savages that only hold contempt towards both the Gillman and those unfortunate to fall under their captive.

As soon as he slurred my kind, I clocked him in the face without hesitation. We weren’t getting anywhere with bastard, be it threats and otherwise. So we gave his body to Grimm to prepare and feast on. Frightening, for a Goblin his appetite is endless as only the sod’s bones were left in the open during the morning.

We rested again, waiting for more of the scrubs to show. It didn’t take too long, six more swam out of the lake and begin pondering about for their slain sentries. Again, we tried the stealth approach and failed a second time to surprise them. More shouts and blood occurred, but we earned our victory twice, albeit one of blaggards fell back into the lake screaming.

So with that we’re preparing to explore the water’s depths. Everyone’s getting prepped with waterbreathing potions and piercing weapons. But in accordance with one of my companions, I am following his lead and leaving my journal topside as well. But not without a failsafe, though.

So, my good reader. Depending on the date written on this entry. I am either dead, still exploring, or trapped. Should mold be any indication on these pages, then the best guess that the former was my fate.

Give this dead man a last request and return my journal to a lass back in Angelwharf. I guarantee you cannot miss her. She’ll be a Freckle-faced redhead with misshapen ears and a thin scar going across her nose. More specifics will be that she’s housed with both a wiry Gnome and a nervous child.

Just please be sure to tell Motley that Largo had always fancied her from afar, but wished that I’d would’ve told her sooner about how I felt for her before my death.

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The road to the lake
And then some

Again the distractions have been getting to me, maybe it’s my roguish nature showing. Now where have we been?
Some time down the road, we ran into lizard-folk, attacking a goblin and orc. Grimm and Calistria are their names. A mage of some sort, and his ally. They joined us on the road. I’m rather glad they did. we arrived at the lake and they had guards at the entrance to their cave system. We took them out with little problem. However in waiting for interrogation purposes they fortified went from 3 strong to 6 strong. We still prevailed, meaning we took 8 out before evening entering the water. Yes 1 returned to the water. We’re entering the cave now. My journal will stay ashore and I will update it when we leave.

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A Week and a Battle
Lucien

A week of down time and I found myself working on helping my ability to withstand a beating. We heard rumors though, attacks on caravans, and kidnappings. Knowing what I know about the goblin band nearby, we chose not to go after the camp. But to focus on the lake. The boggards and skum need to be taken out first.

On our way there, about were the caravan attacks have been happening, we found an alchemist traveling to town, being attacked, by goblins. Seems this is they place. They put it up a tough fight on their worgs, but he took most of them down. Only the witch got away. The same witch that attacked us near the fire swamp. They must belong to the band down south, either that or are outcasts out seeking revenge.

The alchemist was a kind man, gave us many potions, and we sent with him a letter that our alchemist set is to be given to him as well. For now we continue on to the lake.

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A few weeks of distractions kept me from writing

Distractions have been plenty these last few weeks, Envoys from the kingdoms nearby have been to visit. The Fey, The Gripplis, The Serpenfolk, as well as the Undine. It was decided that Breygon would be the leader of Angel Wharf. We agreed unanimously to the Gripplis, the Undine, and the Fey. However, upon agreeing to the Serpenfolk, Gehrak abandoned us claiming he wanted no part in a kingdom that would accept the serpenfolk, and their evil ways. We can only assume he left for the dwarven ruins to the north.

Shortly after a Exalted seemingly lacking intelligence it seems joined us with fellow friends of his he helped escape his former master’s grounds, with people he liked. He came with us to the lighthouse. Upon visiting which we found ghouls, seemingly former hunters, trapped there by goblins. The team dispatched them easily, while I got distracted by locked doors, and traps. What can I say, I’m easily distracted. I did get a chance to hit Chakka upside the head, the bastard set off a trap that fired a javelin into me. We found some useful gear, took back to town.

Trig came for a visit. perfect timing too, we just got the forge back up an running. She made me a new chain shirt. It is magical, I feel more safe in it. Some time later a new group came to town, an Elf not secluded like Gilornor, by the name of Tatheria. She’s a hunter, her companion is a young Allosaurus.

She joined us on our next adventure, during which we were approached by goblins, they ran off, only to attack that night. Luckily I had set up an alarm trap as we slept. As we continue to explore we came across a pit that held magical items in it, it almost killed me as I volunteered to jump in for the magic items at the bottom.

Some time later on the same expedition, we came across the fire swamp as some call it, no doubt it’s caused by the peat decaying, and when the chlorine comes to the air it explodes. When it came to leaving I wanted to split with Haeri, but in the end due to insistence we stayed with the others… After fighting an Oni, it was determined we were wrong, and Haeri’s route would have been the way home.

We returned to Angel Wharf with a visitor by the name of Dozz. He had with him many things, a Cloak of Resistance for example. Which I happily now don. A few scrolls and a wand of Cure Light wounds with 15 charges left. After all is said and done we split the gold down to 174 pieces a person.

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The Oni Went Down to Angelwharf.
Largo's Entry

In our means of exploring the surrounding areas, we rendezvous with a newcomer along with her companion. Tatheria’s her name, so far the strangest thing about her was that she’s by herself. Even with their disappearance, elves don’t normally be by their lonesome. Either or, her presence was most welcoming in this hostile existence. Not to mention she reminded me a bit of Motley before her ears were cropped. Regardless, she said she knew a faster means of returning back to Angelwharf, albeit Haeri insistings on a different route home. The party was split on who to follow and myself not taking sides left it to chance and flipped a coin. The results landed towards her favor and everyone decided to take her lead.

At first, deciding to have her on point may have started second guessings on my part. The popping we heard from the steps we took in the marshes ignited and nearly scorched a good portion of the party. It was just the swamp and our complacency that ailed us during that portion, so I won’t hold it against her. But in the midst of smoke and ash was a silhouette of a humanoid lurking about. I thought I was going mad, but Chakka and Haeri started to attack the particular pocket immediately so I wasn’t the only one who saw it.

A few successful hits revealed what looked fiendish, I’m still unsure what I saw but Stehlen made mention to what it is labeled among us mortals, Oni. Everyone was ill at ease, the bulging eyes and angular teeth truly made it unwise to strike at it. But without a doubt we had to defend ourselves from this monstrosity. Chakka’s goes in his usual purging rambles and immediately charges, but the blaggard levitated out of harm’s way without means of wings. Tatheria, Haeri, and Lucien began their volleys while Stelhen with his wizardry summons his elemental to square off the mock devil in the sky. Myself, trying not be useless again threw tridents and missing horribly altogether.

Now I am getting annoyed at this point, with my last resort I threw my fishing net in hopes of bringing him down to ground. I was successful, but even with my rage he was still putting up resistance with only one arm. Upon closer look at his dried-blood skin, he was definitely shrugging off the damage dealt before. His cuts and piercings slowly weaving back into place, looking all the same with that stone face grin of his that seems to be stuck on eating shit forever more. The Oni drops his club and used his free hand to claw out of my net. Once he got out he immediately turns tail, taking a good hit from the summoned figure that belonged to Stelhen and also a perfect shot right to his arse from one of the archers. A bittersweet victory, we didn’t kill the demon but he left his greatclub during his haste.

We made it back to town with enough time to meet up with the merchants. As much I would like to haggle, I decided to head back home for time with my “family”. Still feels unfamiliar just saying the word, even with the years I’ve spent with these three. Hodgewick crafted me another figurine that resembled one of the reptiles native to the swamps, his attention to detail is without a doubt flawless. Motley’s surprisingly tried to make supper. Her attempt was noble but the execution was questioning. The dish looked like it was still alive, but to see her try a skill that wasn’t fighting was actually kind of… adorable. Fletcher was out playing which is something completely alien for me to hear. From what Hodgewick was relaying, the new wagon that Maggot brought with him also has a kid somewhere around his age. Again, he went vague about it and starts rambling off topic about another discussion on magic truffles and giant wild boars.

Either or, I wonder whether or not this acquaintance of Fletcher can help him come out of his shell. But worry a bit towards her reaction should she find out about his Kitsune heritage.

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Lighthouse Journal

Entry 1
I write this in hopes I can share it when we finally get out of here, or, if not, as a warning to those who may eventually find it.

We thought we were so clever, goblins are small and weak after all. They need, nay, crave a firm hand to guide them. Like the drow masters from whom we had escaped ourselves we could establish ourselves as the overlords of these craven creatures. Lars even spoke their grating language, so it would be a cinch to subjugate them, we thought.

We were wrong.

We came across one of their villages almost a month into our travels. We’d exhausted our own food supply a week before and had been subsisting on whatever we could find or bring down, and our hunger added impetus to our demands. Their chief, a gangly little wretch sitting atop a massive wolf, bade us welcome, and offered us food and shelter. There was something in the way that wolf looked at us that sent shivers down my spine, but we were so hungry we couldn’t say no.

The village produced such a feast! We gorged on the grilled meats and other dishes until we could barely stand, drank wines better than any we had tasted before, and laughed heartily at the antics of the goblin entertainers. We were treated like kings, even to being settled into sumptuous fur beds when we couldn’t keep our eyes open any longer.

Reality came crashing in on us in the morning. A dozen goblins brandishing spears burst in on us just as the sun was rising. We were herded out of the hut, Lars receiving a deep gouge from one of the spears as he tried protesting, and we stood before the chief once more. An evil grin nearly split the bastards face as he looked at us and asked, “Which one?” To our horror the wolf pointed its nose at Lars and said “That one,” in the goblin’s own tongue.

The goblins swarmed all over Lars, overpowering him and bearing him to the ground. Blood pooled on the ground and screams filled the air as we watched on, unable to move. Movement caught our attention as the massive beast moved close enough for us to feel his hot breath. He stared at us and spoke again. Even though he spoke in goblin, we understood the command well enough. Run.

We ran. Gods help us did we run. We saw our gear piled neatly by the village gate and we grabbed it, not even considering what it might mean. As we left the village an unearthly chorus of howls went up all around us. We ran through the day and night, terror burning stronger than the pains we were all feeling. Whenever we would stop and rest for a moment we would hear those awful howls closing in.

We reached this tower late in the afternoon. Barret had tripped and broken his leg around midday, but he still pressed on with us. The howls were getting closer so we decided that we would either make our stand here or dive into the sea. We collapsed the stone bridge and rigged up a quick trap on the door, barricading it just as a pack of massive wolves materialized from the edge of the trees. One of the monsters snarled at us, saying, in common “You ran well, now you die.”

Entry 2

I tended to Barret’s wound as well as I could while the wolves assaulted the door. The first to strike the door was rewarded with a deep cut across both forelegs and ran off into the marsh with a shrill yelp. Sam kept watch up in the tower, firing his crossbow at the beasts as they attacked the door. He hit a few of them, but he doesn’t think that any were serious. The wolves stopped attacking the door after a few forays and have encircled the tower. After a few shots they learned the range of the crossbow and carefully remain outside of that. We don’t have any food or water, so hopefully the wolves give up soon. At least we started with full bellies.

Entry 3

The wolves are tricky. Some would venture just into range and run off when we fired on them, like they were trying to get us to waste ammunition. We’ve gathered up some rocks to throw if they get close enough, and fashioned a crude sling, but we need to conserve the ammunition. We haven’t eaten since the feast 3 days ago, but some of the moss growing on the walls seems to act as a sponge, so when the fog rolls in it leaves us some water, but not much.

Entry 4

Barret’s wound is infected. If we don’t get some help he will lose a leg, or even die. The wolves are still out there, and they make sure we know it. One ventured in far enough to hit with a rock, but it ran off. Hopefully they think we are out of bolts and close in. We have a dozen more bolts for the crossbow.

Entry 5

So hungry. Barret is feverish now, and I recognized the signs of blood poisoning in his leg. I tourniqueted it, but it’s all but certain he will lose the leg. It’s been almost a week since we last ate. Sam tried some of the moss, but vomited almost immediately.

Entry 6

Barret died today. I’m surprised he lasted this long. Maybe we can use his body to lure the wolves in close enough to kill them, or to distract them while we run away. We are so weak though, I don’t think we would be able to lift him up the stairwell.

Entry 7
Oh gods what have we done. It was so simple, so logical. I could barely hold it down if I thought about it, but we both feel vitality returning to our frames.

Entry 8

The wolves are still there, lurking, even after nearly 20 days. We thought to escape on the far side of the building, but one of the creatures was lurking close, oh so close, and nearly got me. Sam hit it with a bolt and it retreated, but it was soon joined by its companions.

Entry 9

The howls are driving me mad! It’s been incessant, non-stop for the past day! Why won’t they leave! Sam covered me while I ventured out to reset our blade trap. There’s no way I would get very far.

Entry 10

We are out of food again. We tried rationing, but even that ran out. We tried a different tactic, letting them get close enough to make another attack on the door. It took a few days, these wolves are extraordinarily patient. The wolf who did so was smart, he used a stick to push the door open, avoiding the trap. We waited, ever so patiently as he searched the room, and then came up the stairs. Then we attacked. I bit him as he topped the stairs, perfectly timing my strikes, relishing the feel of my claws sinking into his unsuspecting flesh. The feeling of the blood over my parched tongue was exquisite, almost as sweet as the look of abject terror in the wolf’s eyes. Even as we tore the paralyzed corpse apart, feasting, gorging ourselves on the warm flesh and blood, but our hunger refused to abate for long. Dear gods, what have we become?

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