D&D Chronicles: At the crossroads

Having just completed a fairly hefty mission, some of the party members muse on recent events and what’s going to happen next… and size up their new companions.

SQUIRREL

D&D CHRONICLESStanding on the outskirts of town, I’m at a border between the known and the unknown, on a couple of levels.

We are returned from ranging into the unknown wilderness of the crater of the Vahdrim, the closest I’ve felt to the Vahdrim since my parents left. It was a strange territory compared to the lanes and shanties of my upbringing that I now stand poised to re-enter. There to contact my peers of the shadows to help these new companions.

They are folk unlike any I’ve met: two northerners, a reawakened westerner and a Kaltan war priest of uncertain loyalties. The last makes me typically wary, but these others! Vaantus, who last walked when the Vahdrim were accepted, respected, feared, rather than reviled, mistrusted, hunted to the edge of extinction – oh how his stories excite me.

Alix – clerical, sure, Shadrath being more benign than some – but still, such trust (perhaps naïvety), bestowing the spellbook and copious notes of their fallen comrade upon me. (Can you imagine any in the guild – nay, the entire island – showing such acceptance, such generosity? I can find no ulterior motive, no subterfuge. It’s truly puzzling.) Then the northern ranger Zillah, wisely suspicious but driven to a quest that interests me greatly.

And their patron, probably the most powerful magic user I’ve heard of, is merely days away. Now there’s an opportunity.

This motley crew have garnered more treasure, more magic, than I’ve seen in my life in a mere week. What other glories might they uncover? To not just tolerate but accept, to welcome, a mage into their midst; well, that’s something. Something worth pursuing, methinks, if it lays open the entire world to discovery. A world that has swallowed my parents without a clue…

ALIX

By Shadrath, what is going on? I seem to be forever losing companions, only to have them be replaced by new people who I barely have time to know before they, too, are dead. Is it me?

Calwyn’s death just about broke my heart. We had been travelling together for so long. After my friend Ash died, Cal became a stalwart companion and friend. He wasn’t from my village but he had a good heart and was loyal. And the way he died! Argh, it could not have been a more bitter betrayal. I know it was not Ammonite’s fault and yet, I did blame them. Ammonite felt torn apart for days afterwards and I don’t how they would have fared had they survived the crater. Still, they were a good companion when not bespelled and their absence is felt.

We are out of the accursed crater at last! On our way to meet Abhorran and get on a ship away from this wretched place. There are new faces among us and I am not sure how I feel about them. My fondness for Cal has made me too trusting with the young mage Squirrel and Zillah has had to remind me to be wary a couple of times now.

How will these new acquaintances feel about joining our mission? How do we even begin to tell them what it is?

I miss my friends and feel the need to watch over Zillah all the more closely. My hearth is so very small now. But we are finally leaving and I am relieved.

BLIZZARD

I am no stranger to Vahdrim, but I saw things in that caldera that defy even my belief. Wondrous things, horrific things, and I cannot imagine what they portend. The sight of those winged monstrosities carrying off a person… Even now it makes me shudder.

Perhaps we were naïve when we set out on our adventures – two Vahdrim and one cleric against the world. Long had my companions wanted to journey to Mycross – secret Vahdrim business, they joked. Oh, cursed day we left. Now they are gone, one before we even reached Mycross – and so I sit on my private grief, unwilling to speak of such things.

In Akkaron, we heard tidings of a party of adventurers already on the trail and thought to join them. And so I did, alone by then, bereft of friendship and support. Clearly, they are seasoned and stronger than I, so I don’t understand their animosity, their suspicion. I’ve done nought to hurt them and all I can to aid their cause – yet they make out I’m a monster for wanting treasure. But isn’t that what they seek? At least I do so for a greater cause: the glory of Kaltan. Is it my fault I cannot heal that wretched ranger? If only she were lawful, I could help her. You would think, from her manner, that I withhold my healing just to vex her.

But even in their own party – betrayal. That thieving whore Xolra spilled the blood of our companion. I liked Ragal. Now his corpse demands justice, and I want her head. She must pay for her unlawful acts. Blood for blood: that is the nature of law. And if I cannot demand justice for my lost companions, I can at least insist on it for him.

ZILLAH

As soon as we’ve escaped this cursed island, Alix and I need to resume our quest to prevent the rise of Varrien. At least that’s what I hope we agreed to when we pledged to find the other Eye all those weeks ago. The compulsion to go after the Right Eye continues to gnaw at my gut; but I’m also aware we’re not strong enough alone. With Calwyn, Ammonite and Schill dead, we need help. Magical help. Muscle.

I’ve been weighing up our new companions, trying to figure out whether to tell them about our true quest… what to tell them. I do get the feeling they’re likely to be interested in accompanying us if they perceive enough reward.

Vaantus in particular could probably do with a mission after losing the last 25 years of his life. At the moment, we’re the only friends he has. Squirrel has been dropping hints about needing to get off the island and, although he’s a bit secretive, he hasn’t done anything to piss me off yet. Besides, he’s the only mage I’m even close to trusting.

As for Blizzard… I’m still finding it difficult to trust him, but he’s been keeping his head down and pulling his weight. Even so, the manner in which he found us in the middle of that crater was suspicious. And now he says he arrived with a Vahdrim companion who got killed. I don’t know much about southern customs, but I’m fairly certain clerics of Kaltan don’t typically associate openly with Vahdrim mages. Are not all mages persecuted here? Something just doesn’t add up.

But we have to make a decision, Alix and I. Whether we like it or not, whether we fully trust them or not, we need the aid of these new acquaintances.

I just hope they can understand our quest to defeat Varrien extends far beyond the seeking of mere treasure. Everything we do, every treasure we acquire (including that discovered in the crater), is all for the greater goal of stopping the rise of the goddess of destruction.


Thanks to Jason Nahrung (Squirrel), Tracey Rolfe (Blizzard) and Lita Kalimeris (Alix) for their contributions.

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