Monday, April 30, 2012

Journal of Fjolkir the Beardless, Part 7

Today, a dragon was slain.  We awoke in the morning (from wonderful and terrible jungle dreams) and received the wards of the elder druid, before being transported to the last campsite of group of warriors in the service of the green.  Their campfire was some days old, and we tracked them to an ancient elven temple.  There we were met by an ancient elf by the name of Qual, who claimed that we had in fact been ensorceled, as the green had shifted his shape into that of the elder druid and directed us to slay the other party, which had escaped the grasp of his enchantment.  Qual also told us many things of the origin of the world and the chromata.

In the beginning, there were Tiamat and Bahamut, gods of the dragons.  And they created dragons upon the earth, and the humanoid races with the purpose of extracting wealth from the stone and forging treasures from it, that the dragons might hoard it.  Bahamut and his metallic dragons ascended to a higher plane of existence, leaving only the evil chromatic dragons here (though I refuse to believe in the existence of a beneficent dragon...).  The elves and gnomes stole arcane magic from the dragons, and came to have greater mastery over it than their progenitors.  The dragons took poorly to these upstarts, and sought to crush them.  To this end the five chromata were created by Tiamat, one for each color, and each to aid in the destruction of the arcanist races.  Mavrilith, as we well know, is forged to directly destroy arcanists themselves.  Spiritus Mortus, the white chromata, creates some sort of state between life and death, for purposes unknown.  The Thief of Being, the blue, is a perfect disguise, that the blue dragon possessing it might walk among men and sow discord.  The red Keepsake protects the mind from illusions and enchantment, the traditional schools of the gnomes and elves, respectively.  Finally, the green Gentle Master granted direct but subtle control over the minds of men.  Qual also revealed that the chromata of each color attracts dragons of that color to itself; I, for one, look forward to crushing any black wyrm which comes for us.

When questioned on our motives for seeking the chromata, Qual suggested that we had likely been manipulated by Ythir into gathering them for his struggle against the elf king who rules Dehlia, whose release from an ancient imprisonment Ythir is responsible for.  This elven king desires to conquer the continent and crush free will beneath his pointy-toed boot.  The mention of this king attracted Mavrilith's interest; it coiled in my mind, and suggested strongly that we assist Ythir in this endeavor, for it would love little more than to feast upon such a powerful and ancient mage.  I have little objection to this, for any such tyrant and sorcerer is no friend of mine, but I reminded it that Anaximath must be slain as well, to which it agreed.

With our desire to gather the chromata reaffirmed despite Qual's warnings, he provided us a ward to protect us from the green's influence and we embarked via tree stride back to the druid's encampment, there to meet Scylla the elder in battle after receiving many blessings from both Barradin and Durnik.  We spoke with it, and it shifted and took off while breathing vile gases upon us.  I disrupted its castings while we closed the range, and then the martial trance took me.

When I came to, the dragon was slain, but so was Karath.  He was a good elf (as good a one as I have ever known), and died a dragonslayer.  We gave him a hero's burial, and then Shin-Yao and I set about butchering the dragon while Barradin and Durnik searched for its hoard.  The meat is rank and inedible; I am not sure how best to cure it to make it worth eating.  I consider this a challenge, and will apply all of my art to it.  The horns, bone, and organs may all have value to the mages of Hollowtown, though, so we have gathered them.  Shin-Yao has taken many teeth as trophies, and I have commissioned for myself an emerald scale cloak; the tigerskin was badly corroded by acid.  The magic in the hoard was mostly trivial, but there was much coin of both gold and platinum; we are well and truly in the black (It seems that I have come to be the unofficial treasurer of the Fists...  and I suppose the chronicler as well.  Harumph.).  Barradin took possession of the green chromata; while in other hands I would be worried for my mind, I find myself trusting Barradin with its power.  Mavrilith, after all, has not corrupted me...

We returned to the ship and the crew's spirits were greatly eased by the skull which we carried.  We mounted it upon the bow and rechristened the ship Scylla in honor of our victory (I cannot help but think that Karath would have been as fitting, but I am informed that by tradition all ships must have female names).  We set sail back to Hollowtown with favorable wind just as the sun set.  Next on the list is Anaximath herself...  I shiver with fear and anticipation.

- Journal of Fjolkir the Beardless, Fourth Day of Forgefeast

We have made excellent time sailing downriver, and it has been an uneventful voyage.  The jungle is quiet, as if in respect for our victory and for the fallen Karath.  We should reach Hollowtown tomorrow without trouble.  I have found Qual's words on the origin of the demihuman races troubling...  To be a creation of the dragons is humiliating.  On the other hand, to seek vengeance as such a creation is truly poetic justice.  To wield a weapon crafted to crush the demihumans against them, as Mavrilith was, is doubly so.  I grow to feel a kinship with it; we both have a finality of purpose.  We are both willing to be used by the other for our own purposes, and we understand that that is where we stand.  It is a fearsome thing, this loss of sense of self, the merger with something cold and hungry...  But it is not so different from what I was, all those years in the woods.  I realize now that before, I was only willing to die to slay Anaximath, to throw away my physical self, but only recently have I become willing to destroy my mind.  The spirits of the unavenged dead goad me on; all sacrifices are acceptable.  Nothing else matters.  Anaximath must die.

- Journal of Fjolkir the Beardless, Fifth Day of Forgefeast

We are One.  The dwarf sleeps, dreaming of all that transpires, and the blade walks in his skin.  Together, we are as Death, riding a wooden horse adorned with skulls down the Lethe.  We continue this journal for the appearance of normalcy it gives the dwarf's companions; they worry for our sanity.  They cannot know the magnitude of the dwarf's bargain and his willing sacrifice, for they do not know the depth of his need for vengeance.  We shall drink deeply of the blood of sorcerers, and we shall avenge against dragonkind.  This is our twofold purpose.  We drank deeply today to seal the covenant; a short, fat, angry little wizard with pretensions of rulership, and then his throne (tangy) and other magical architectures (filling, but bland).  We desired also another small wizard, who the dwarf knows as Barradin, but he is protected from us by our green brother.  He seems to continue to travel with us rather than taking his shattered throne, so perhaps an opportunity will arise.  We have hatched a plan which should fulfill both of our purposes in one stroke; we shall engineer a conflict between Anaximath and the elven king, Oberon, who we know of old, in the midst of his own city.  To this end, we have sent the spearman and the hammerer to petition Anaximath, while we and Barradin shall go to the city and secure Ythir's assistance.  We gathered also several things which we deemed necessary for this plan, including diamond dust, many small pieces of shining metal, and a service of local priests in sending a message to Ythir, then departed upon our ship for the city of Dehlia.

- Gestalt, First Day of Union

We have arrived in the city of the elven king, and are met by agents of another short one, who is called by the name Seche Peret.  He is of no direct interest to us, but has designs against Ythir, so he is useful.  He has aided us in securing a place to meet with Ythir, who confided in us that he will assist us against Anaximath and Oberon, provided that we rid him of an enemy who tails him, one named Asmir.  We agreed to do so, and Ythir departed via teleport.  He will be scrumptious, but we must not let our hunger interfere with the grand strategy.  Sacrifices must be made by all.

- Gestalt, Second Day of Union

A trap was laid for Asmir; we do not enjoy being used as bait, but we perform this function well, and at killing we are even better.  This one had an interesting flavor; dark and aromatic, purposeful like us, and driven to cause death.  Barradin was badly injured in this slaying, and so we were able to pull several items from the corpse without his notice, chief among them a disguising hat and a pair of soft, silent boots.  Duplicity is in our nature now, and assistance cannot go amiss.  We were apprehended by tall guardsmen after the deed was done, for Barradin had lit fire to a building in the act, but they were diverted by Anaximath's arrival over the city.  Our time to strike had not yet come, for the elf has now shown his hand, so we hid and rested briefly.  Ythir appeared and asked that we travel with him to parts unknown; we did so, suspiciously, but found there the bearer of the white shield, Spiritus Mortus.  We tore it from his grasp and crushed the life from him; after some debate, it was decided that we should bear the shield as a gauntlet, for the dwarf already hears the souls of the dead which it bears with it, and since we will likely be foremost to attract Anaximath's ire.  The dwarf stirs, fearing from the shield a damnation worse than death, but we remind him that he has granted us any means necessary to fulfill purpose, and that according to Qual's revelations, the gods and afterlife of men and dwarves are but invention.  He cedes this point, and agrees.  We are three now.  As we write, we make preparations to unite with the New Fists, as Barradin calls them, and to engage Anaximath and Oberon.  The hour of dual fulfillment of purpose draws near.

We seek a custodian for this journal; preferably one who will not be in the vicinity of dragonfire in the near future.  Barradin and Ythir both seem viable candidates.  This is our final entry; we will not journal further, for after what is to come, no illusion of dwarf normalcy will be possible, we think.  Yet we see no reason to destroy this record of what we are and how we came to be.

- Gestalt, Third Day of Union

To Part 8

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