The Cost of Valiance
This is the journal of Celeste Silverpalm, Sister Priestess to the Lady of Death, and Avenger in Her name. Herein lie her collected thoughts, on the subject of her myriad adventures.
As my search has continued, I have found that my ever decreasing stock of funds has begun to run dry. I suppose it was inevitable; laying the dead to rest does not pay well, and the sisters that I have met on the road are often in no position to add to my funds. I have begun to understand just how blessed we were back home. The combination of the many priesthoods seems to have attracted far more donations than a single temple or church might have.
It would seem that I need to find some form of income, utilizing my other skill set. I have heard that Maycon is in need of adventurers… It seems an excellent match for my new talents, and with as many people and deaths in the area… The Ruins, I’ve heard a little of… It seems to me, an excellent home for a vampire, and thus an excellent place to continue my search.
The caravan I have hired myself onto has thankfully provided free transportation to Maycon, in return for the added protection I bring. Curiously, several others have joined the caravan as well, all obviously skilled individuals. The dragonborn, a skilled warrior who I have learned is named Shedinn, seems rather full of himself and his wit, but he seems like the honorable type. The dwarf Orsik is… Well, he is certainly unique. In my short time traveling with him, I have learned that he is a battlepriest of Moradin, and that he possesses what I wager to be an unquenchable thirst for mead.
The third member of the group which the caravan convinced to act as its protectors, is perhaps the oddest and most interesting. He is a dark haired, dark eyed man of a blue hue, which according to the questions I have plied him with, and the small stock of my knowledge, makes him a Shade. He is an interesting man, quite fearful, but very clever, and capable with his bow. I must admit to feeling a sort of bond to the man. Perhaps it is his link to the Shadowfell? It is a realm watched over by the Raven Queen, so perhaps my newer, stronger connection to my goddess is sparking this interest… But I have yet to truly get to know the man, so it is just as likely some other factor, perhaps similarities in our pasts. I shall wait and see.
Unfortunately, none of the people of the caravan, or of this strange group of guards, has heard of Malik.
Today, the caravan finally arrived in Victoria, although myself and the three other guards arrived somewhat later. Along the road, our caravan encountered a farmer who had recently been attacked by bandits, and had stolen the last of his crops. While it is not a sin against the Raven Queen to steal, I personally find it quite distasteful, especially when doing so condemns a man to an early death, not ordained for him. I was rather surprised, however, to find the other three, Orsik, Shedinn and Leon, following after me as I followed the tracks the bandits had left.
Unfortunately, the encounter came to bloodshed. The group was dealt with swiftly, and I believe I may have impressed my companions. My ability to wield my scythe was invaluable in the battle, although i believe I may have overdone things when I severed a man’s arm. Even now, I do not have much practical battle experience, and I find it odd. How easy it is for me now, to bring death to a battlefield, where before I only tended its aftermath. I will have to remember to attempt to reign in my powers, lest I overdo things yet again.
I wonder if the barbarians and battle ragers face a similar dilemma…
Be that as it may, we managed to spare one of the bandits, and return the farmer’s goods to him, with extra to spare. The man, who introduced himself as Jim Pavlovic, offered to give us a ride into the town, which we gratefully accepted. The old farmer had some interesting insights into the goings on in the area, and I am now, more than ever, convinced that I can find Malik somewhere in this conflict.
The rest of the day went by smoothly. To celebrate our victory, the small group went to a local tavern. Orsik particularly insisted I accompany them, and, not wanting to be rude to these good people, I came along for the ride. There was a man, Thomas Everheart, at the tavern, enjoying himself with a lady companion. While I found the extremely open display to be slightly vulgar… It did remind me of happier times. As it turned out, the man needed some rescuing. Shedinn performed quite an admirable display, and managed to scare off a whole pack of thugs that had arrived for poor Thomas’s head. In thanks, Thomas has paid for our inns for the night, as well as recommended that our small group form an adventuring band and join the Adventure Campaign. I will have to think on this, but one of the reasons I came here was for that very purpose, and these three have proven to be faithful and friendly companions. Even if Orsik seems rather to have taken a flirtatious shining to me.
I do hope I can dissuade him gently, without resorting to my old standby of showing my marriage bond. … Now that I think on the matter, I wonder if they have even heard of a Raven’s Feather in these parts.
Still no sign of my quarry in this city. I have not put forth too much effort to find him here, as I believe if he is anywhere, it will be either with the nation of Drenin, or lurking somewhere in the famous ruins. I believe I may have shocked the others, especially Leon, when I brought up the fact that I am hunting a greater undead.
Today was quite the busy day, and there is much to report. After careful thought, our group did indeed decide to band together and hire ourselves out to the Maycon military. I must admit, with a name like “Adventure Campaign” I was not expecting it to be so official… Six months is a long time, and while I am sure these jobs will send me and my new friends over a wide area, I fear that the situation may arise wherein I will be forced to abandon this new position. If that situation does indeed arise, I believe I may have gotten myself into more trouble than I can handle…
On a more frivolous matter, it seems that companies of adventurers are both required to be comprised of six members, and are required to submit a name to be attached to their group. We have been told that the fifth and sixth members will be handled for us, they still required that we give a name to the group. I put forth a name for our party, which I personally find somewhat amusing: The Broken Dawn. The others all agreed to the name, and so we are from now on, to be referred to officially as The Broken Dawn. I wonder how many of them understood the double meaning of the name?..
Interestingly, it seems the military does indeed bring in much interest from Maycon’s people. A young man we bumped into seemed extremely urgent about signing up. A curious thing, but I suppose national pride is a force to be reckoned with.
Later, we arrived in what I can only describe as some sort of cross between a carnival, and a military base of operations. The place is quite huge, and from what I saw, contains nearly anything a group of adventurers could possibly wish for. We received our official papers, titles, and new party members, and were told we would be leaving shortly for a place called Scinel. Our two newest additions are of the quite strange variety. One, a Deva named Tyce, is apparently a psion, something I have never encountered in my travels. I am curious to see what he is capable of. The other new member is quite strange indeed. Lycos is apparently a shifter, but he appears to be far closer to his werewolf kin than many others of his race. I must admit to a great deal of curiosity, concerning how he came to be so furry and wolf-like, while his kin are far more human-seeming.
We spent some time in the base camp, and while others trained, I gave a demonstration of my skills to Lycos and Shedinn. I believe I have fully impressed them now, though Lycos seemed rather out of it during the sparring match.
Eventually, we met with our driver, a dwarf named Adirk, and we set off. I have the distinct feeling that this mission will be more difficult than the officials let on, but we shall have to se-
I believe I have heard something in the woods.
As it turned out, our campsite was being scouted by a small group of kobolds. Lycos and myself managed to capture and slay them before they could report back. This was, however, a disturbing turn of events, as this was inside Maycon’s territory, and such creatures were all but unheard of in the area. Our party decided to track the kobolds back to wherever they had come from, and eventually we found a dessicated campsite, which seemed to at one point have been a supply caravan. While investigating, we were ambushed by a larger force of kobolds. They were relatively easy to dispatch, but in the process, Tyce took a serious blow to the head, and has been unconscious since. It seems that psionics are not quite what they are cracked up to be. I fear the Deva may be in a coma, as he has not reacted in the slightest, since that blow.
Protecting the fallen body of our companion as best we could, we examined the camp further, and eventually discovered that the kobolds had made a lair of sorts, hidden under one of the camp’s tents. We entered and exterminated the invaders with not too much difficulty, but… I was, during the fight, pushed into a pit of filth which I do not wish to remember. I don’t not fully remember what happened next, but I know that I emerged from the pit, spitting with fury, and slew the kobold responsible, almost immediately. I was in a very foul temper, and when the party began dithering over how to avoid a trap, I simply used my assailant’s body to spring the trap for us. I have come to regret that rash action now, and afterwards I did my best to set all the souls of the lost at peace.
We returned to Adirk shortly, and after a bath, continued on to Scinel. It is… In far worse condition than we had been lead to believe. Half the town is destroyed, the people are starving, and the military forces are decimated. We were briefed on the situation, and it is indeed as bad as it looks. We spent some time investigating what I believe were thieves, and I later visited the local church of Pelor. It has been over a year since I have sent a prayer to Pelor, but I felt it appropriate to ask the god of healing and light for assistance in this plight, My Lady’s dark side has already taken a firm grim on this town.
I asked briefly if Malik may have been here, but I doubt the answer will be yes. This place is far too decimated already, there is little left for the vampire to destroy or feed on. Although there are certainly enough bodies to raise as minions.
We rested for several hours in an unoccupied building which had been partly damaged in an earlier raid. While there is an inn, the prices are ludicrous, and I refuse to spend more money than necessary on this venture. As I write this, I am preparing to go out on watch, to guard the town during the night. The rest of the party are in similar states of readiness. We shall see what the night brings.
An eventful night, to be sure.
Tonight on watch, I spotted something in the rain and the gloom. I am unsure of exactly what it was that I saw, but I alerted my companions nonetheless. As we searched the ruined portions of the town, Lycos, acting I can only assume on some primal instinct, went running off into the darkness after some scent. I assumed he had caught a whiff of a goblin invasion force, but as it turned out, he had caught the scent of an unknown woman. This intruder turned out to be a scavenger, seeking what she called “Business opportunities”. As of now, she has taken up a short term job with the Maycon military, so I suppose she is to be trusted. Her name is Borline.
The party felt it was best to keep her under our eye, but as we were readying to take her back to report, Lycos ran off yet again. We quickly followed after, to find that he had burst open a door to a nearby house, only to be blindsided by several spears. Our group charged in, to find the place being raided by a group of goblins, and Lycos bleeding out on the floor. A battle ensued, and during it, the house’s occupant was kidnapped. I… Do not remember a great deal of what happened, after Orsik and I raided the top floor, just a vague idea that I chased the goblins down and engaged them afterwards.
After we managed to rescue the elderly woman, we brought her, and the goblin’s leader back to our commander. Issac was pleased that we had averted a tragedy, but seemed slightly put out by our unorthodox tactics. Unfortunately, the goblin turned out to be dead. Fortunately, it was the end of our watch shift.
I was also informed that the man with a finger on the pulse of this town’s population had recently come off-shift as well. While I assumed that Malik was not in this town, I am still obligated to take every measure to make sure that I do not miss his presence. Thus, I went to speak with the man… As did Leon. Seemingly, my shady companion is on the run from someone, and from the sound of it, this person is a member of the church of Pelor. It certainly explains his reluctance to approach the temple here. Leon pried rather heavily into my relation to Malik… I am unsure how to approach this situation, as I do not particularly wish to delve back into that matter. On the other hand, my companions should be informed of what they may encounter in my company.
I am preparing for bed now, thinking back on the night’s events. Well, we shall see.
We have spent much of the day, preparing for the assault that is to come, though the morning brought some interesting developments. A town council was called, and Isaac informed the townsfolk that they would need to take arms against the next goblin assault. Most of the people seemed to agree with this, though one old man was particularly vocal, against the idea. It seems we have been assigned a new companion, an eladrin tactician named Varioth. I am not sure what this group really needs is someone barking orders at us, but he seems quite friendly, and capable in combat, so we shall see.
The rest of the day was spent in preparation. Varioth went to speak with the old mayor, hoping to get him to work with Issac, instead of fighting him. Borline went off to gather weapons from those that had fallen in the forest. Orsik and Shedinn have set to work, training the townsfolk in the ways of combat. I believe Leon was busy making traps of some kind… As for myself, I decided to scout out the forest. Unfortunately, I found little of note, save an odd carrying harness, left behind in an old ruin. Figuring our money-minded companion could make the best use of it, I gave the item to Borline, before returning to the town to assist in the training. As it turns out, telling a random villager to “Trust in the power of your god to guide you”… Well, it doesn’t get much in the way of results. I think I will forgo training the townsfolk in combat, but perhaps I can help them learn to be better watchmen, so that we are not caught off guard when the attack arrives…
Another mostly uneventful day spent training the townsfolk in the various skills they will need to insure that the upcoming battle does not claim all our lives. This particular training session went much better, on all fronts.
I grow concerned with the silence from the forest… Every day that passes without an attack simply increases the likelihood that an attack will come the next night. I fear that tonight we wi-
The alarms have sounded.
I do not wish to dwell long upon this past night, so I shall make this entry brief. The goblin army made its move, and with the help of the townsfolk, we have repelled it. Many have died this night, including our new companion Borline; The Raven Queen’s realm has prospered. Reinforcements should be arriving soon, our stay in Scinel is coming to a close.
One note to leave myself, however. I must be careful of Orsik. It seems his reverence of the dead goes only so far. Things nearly came to blows between us, as he tried to loot Borline’s corpse for all it was worth.
Some time has passed, since I last found myself with time to write down my thoughts. I have done my best to care for the souls of those that fell in the battle, though I fear it was far less than I normally would have been able to.
Many of the townsfolk died, and those that lived have been set to work burying or burning the dead that are littering the ground around Scinel. It is true, that death is a natural part of life… But seeing the carnage here, I cannot help but wonder if the fated deaths these men and women were to have, were different than those they received.
Reinforcements have arrived, thus securing the safety of Scinel, especially after the crushing blow that was delivered to the goblin forces during the battle. We will not be long in this town, now, as we have received both a letter requesting our assistance, written by Thomas, and our new orders. We are to head to Fort Ironfox, for what reason I do not know. Whatever the reason for our travel orders, it seems that Thomas has uncovered something quite nasty, and we will hopefully be helping him while there… I would assume it is some sort of plot, based on the vague letter, but who can say.
Time has flown far quicker than I would have expected, and I have found little to no time, nor been able to spare a thought, to writing down my thoughts. Leon, I have noted, has… But be that as it may, there is much to report.
We arrived in Farendium, and immediately set out to find Thomas. After a GREAT deal of searching, we found that he was missing. More digging uncovered a rather nasty conspiracy going on within the city. I was attacked alone in an alley… but of course, as I am writing this, I defeated the attack. We eventually encountered a man that Thomas had been working with, attempting to uncover whatever conspiracy was afoot. He directed us to a meeting with Destiny’s Edge, which led to a mass, temporary desertion of our jobs. Thomas, it seemed, had been taken to an enemy stronghold, within the borders of Maycon. We left to rescue him, and put the stronghold out of business.
Our invasion proved fruitful, as we found Thomas, and managed to rescue him. At the center of the stronghold, however, there was a… Difficulty. We arrived, rather by surprise, to find a strange man speaking with the leader of the goblin forces. He spoke with the goblin in a friendly, familiar fashion, and more importantly, gave the distinct impression of a man with power. While the rest of the group attacked the goblins, I attempted to bring the man down, that we might insure he did not do any harm, and could be questioned. I suspected him to be the traitor within the ranks… He was not so. The man was powerful. So powerful that thinking back on him, still sends a shiver of angry fear down my spine. I attacked him to the best of my ability, and was unable to even touch him, while he treated my assault with a disturbingly casual air, and eventually blasted me into a wall.
After the battle, and my humiliating defeat, the man presented us with… Gifts. I loath to think of it, but the man claimed to have a keen interest in our group, particularly in our continued success. He set funds down, but also, disturbingly, presented Leon with a severed head, claiming it belonged to an employer of Leon’s… And also that the lich who the head belonged to, was indirectly responsible for the events that set me down my current path. He refused to answer further, and I do not remember much more, so distraught was I.
I believe I have written enough for now… I will finish recording these events another time, perhaps. I feel slightly drunken, after tonight’s party. I think I may have hugged Leon and Varioth.
Returned to Farendium, uncovered the plot, killed an imposter in a very public fashion, before he could ascend to power within Maycon. We have been promoted, and made lords of a small town, for our efforts…
I record these things quickly, to insure that when I look back, I can remember… But something far more pressing has been brought to light. After the events in the city, Leon had the idea to speak with a local ritualist, to attempt to gain some information from the skull he had been given. I came along, intending to inquire further into our mysterious benefactor’s words.
It is that man’s fault. I hesitate to even refer to the lich as a man, but it is the fault of this Baron Adrien. He set out an order to assassinate Malik, and because of that… Because of him…
I have often wondered what I would do, once I have stopped Malik… I did not see much point beyond the end of that mission. Now however, I do. Now I have a goal for the future.
When my hunt has ended, I am going to the Shadowfell. I will make Baron Adrien pay.