Legacy of Jade

A Dance in Fire

I try not to remember much of the Cinderlands. Try a little too hard to ever get the job done, if I’m being honest, especially as it concerns my father and sister. You know, I never call them “my family,” or even “my old family.” They never used the word for me, and they don’t deserve for me to use it for them, so I don’t.

But, as much as I try to forget everything else about the place, there’s one memory that sticks with me more than anything else. See, the Black Suns had this ritual; once a year, on the first new moon of the summer, they’d have a firewalk. 500 feet of red hot coals, with the Black Suns on either side ready to stab anybody who strayed. Any slave that walked the whole thing got a shot at something easier than heavy labor; you’d get put on metalworking, or made a raider, or become one of the clan member’s “pets.” Depended on who you impressed. Not much of an incentive, for most of us. I never tried it.

Only, the last summer I was there, Shirta forced me into it. They could do that, too, if they got bored; you couldn’t exactly say no. I didn’t know why she did it. All I knew was 500 feet of fire and pain, and eyes and fangs and spears shining in the dark under the moonless sky. I made it 200 feet, I think, before my legs gave out. I heard Shirta snarling at me, I don’t remember what she was saying, then everything went the color of fire and I passed out.

I woke up back in the pens the next morning with feet burned raw and a new brand on my arm. Should’ve been dead—that’s the way things worked, if you didn’t make the walk—but I wasn’t. Always figured it had to be Shirta’s doing; closest she ever came to treating me like a person, let alone like a brother. You can see why I try not to think about it.

But ever since we got to Brinewall? I feel like I’m back on those hot coals. Walking through hell, with certain death on either side and not a lot of promise at the other end, either, and if you stop for too long to think you end up burned.

I’m not going to say I expected things to be simple. We were walking into a ghost town to look for some buried bauble or another thanks to a letter we got from an undead pirate, so I expected trouble of the strangest kind. But Ameiko going into some kind of trance as soon as we stepped into town, that I didn’t see coming.

So naturally, we went tearing off into the city proper—or what’s left of it—to find out whatever we could, instead of waiting until morning like we would have otherwise. We still haven’t found anything useful, but this place isn’t as deserted as we were led to believe, either.

By the looks of things, somebody in the harbor got into a fight with a sea serpent within the last month. The serpent is dead, but the ship was abandoned, so it’s not really clear who won. What’s more, the graveyard looks like somebody’s been keeping an eye on it, though we didn’t manage to find whoever that is, either.

But the main troubles? They’d be in the Keep. Last night, Sigrid managed to sneak in and open the gates for us, so we went in; after the glassworks turned out to be empty, it seemed like the best place to go to find answers. Naturally, we found trouble instead.

The giant spider, I’m sorry to say, was the least of our worries. After we got into a scuffle with it, what I assume to be its master came out, and of course he—I’m assuming he, but I really don’t know; I’ve never even heard of an “Ettercap” before—didn’t speak any language we knew, so we had to fight our way through him, too. By the time that was over with, these bird-men (Dire Corbis, according to Em; I don’t know where they get these names from) came out and surrounded us.

We probably could have dealt with them then and there, as few as there were, but they looked to have stronger numbers in the dark, and Tarra fogging up the courtyard didn’t help matters. Besides which, they had a catapult, and no qualms about using it on us; Tarra nearly got crushed by a boulder.

So, we retreated, and came back this morning. Things didn’t go much better then, either.

Sigrid managed to get the gates open again; the rest of us tried negotiating with the Corbis on the wall, trying to explain that the whole thing of the night before had been a big misunderstanding. They didn’t speak Common either, evidently, but I don’t think it would have mattered either way, and we hadn’t really expected it to.

The rest of our entry into the castle was nasty, brutish and short—much like the Ogrekin we ran into in the courtyard, save for the “short” part. I think they actually did speak a word or two of Common, but we were too busy dodging their fists and dispatching them to worry about it; they didn’t even get along with each other, let alone us.

The next leg of our short jaunt into the castle was similarly discouraging. Most of what we looked into was empty, and the first-empty room we found was full of bat. Singular. Mobat, more specifically, though apart from size and terror the distinction is lost on me. It nearly bit Faelwyn in half before we closed the door on it and moved on to other ventures—and of course, there was a massive hole in the roof of the room, so we didn’t really have any illusions about that being the end of it, but more on that later.

I’m going to pause here, because I want you to fully appreciate the bizarreness of the situation. We were tired, bloodied, stretched thin from the battles of the morning and night before, still no closer to finding a cure for Ameiko, and fresh from an encounter with a giant bat that we fully expected to deal with again as soon as we stepped outside. So, when we stepped through the hallway next to the ballroom and found what appeared to be a fairy seamstress hard at work… well, like I said, bizarre. Even leaving everything else out of it, a plucky dressmaker would have been quite the rarity in a monster-infested dungeon, but with everything we’d been through I’m not really sure we knew how to react.

So, since she seemed friendly at first, we defaulted to diplomacy. And, after all of twelve seconds (Quicklings live up to their name), we were rewarded in kind for our efforts as we have been every single time we’ve tried it up ‘til now: she tried to kill us. (As it turned out, she was actually a taxidermist, not just a dressmaker; the “statues” in her workspace were… well, we’ll give them a proper burial as soon as we can. If we can.)

She escaped, but not before we found out that there’s some mysterious Master who’s taken over the castle. Presumably, he’s the one who’s wrangled all the disparate creatures in the castle into working together. Honestly, if they weren’t all trying to kill us I’d be impressed. I am impressed. But that doesn’t change the fact that Ameiko’s still in a trance, and that place is probably the key to snapping her out of it. We can’t just leave her like that, trapped in a nightmare; I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. So we’ve got to find the answer, and fight our way through anything that gets in our way.

Which brings us to the return leg of today’s journey. We made it to the glassworks before the Mobat caught up with us, so we ducked into the building to keep it at a disadvantage; less room to maneuver, we figured. Seemed to work, too; it didn’t even get its claws on most of us, and we took a few good shots at it when it flew through. But something compelled me to break out of the building and follow it outside; heat of the moment, I guess.

So when it came back around for another pass, I was the one it went for. It took me down in a flash of claws and fangs; if Nellis hadn’t been around to patch me up, I’d be dead. They tell me I took it with me on the way down, but I don’t remember any of that. All I remember is the pain, then everything went the color of fire, and the next thing I knew I was waking up with the others standing over me and the bat was dead.

Only, that’s not all I remember. Somewhere between the fire and the wake, there was something else. Some half-remembered dream about an endless desert wracked with heat, and a red figure dancing in flames, the sand turning to glass beneath their feet. I don’t remember anything else, but I can’t shake this feeling; that fire from my dream is the same fire I saw back on the coals, and the same one I saw before I killed the Mobat. Somehow, that fire’s a part of me, and it’s saved my life twice.

And I’m grateful, don’t get me wrong. I’d rather be alive than dead. But if you want to know the truth, I’m scared to death of what it’s going to want when it calls in that debt.

…Gods. You know, a month ago, my biggest concern was the market prices for Magnimaran textiles, and now I’ve got a friend in a coma, a castle full of monsters to siege and who knows what else. I can see why Sandru retired.

Though, I do find ways of staying sane. Like earlier this evening, I went fishing with Tarra for a while—it’s interesting, she knows some sort of Holding spell that works on fish; much faster than that line-and-hook nonsense. It was relaxing, doing something (relatively) normal like that after all the chaos of the last two days.

Trying to puzzle Tarra out is a fine way to relax, too. I’m pretty sure at this point that she’s not a wizard like Em; she knows all the theories (and taught me a fair chunk on the road), but she seems like she has more… endurance, I suppose? And I don’t remember ever seeing her studying her spell books, either. So maybe she’s more like me; something that comes from within, instead of something she studied.

Or hell, maybe she’s a dragon in disguise for all I know. It’d explain why she’s hauling around so much treasure, and why she keeps trying to find a lair way out in the middle of nowhere to roost in. And it’d make about as much sense as anything else that’s happened since we left Sandpoint.

And in case the deadpan delivery didn’t get it across: yes, that was sarcasm. I don’t really think Tarra’s a dragon (if for no other reason than I find it hard to believe goblins could’ve captured her if she was). But like I said, I like trying to puzzle her out; it’s a bastion of simplicity, a low-impact problem in a sea of life-and-death ones. Might not be too far off from why she wants a home away from it all, for that matter.

But nobody’s going home just yet. Not until we find a way to wake Ameiko out of this nightmare she’s stuck in. So, tonight we’re on watch, keeping an ear open for anything she says that might give us a clue—and tomorrow, it’s once more into the flames.

I just hope, this time, we can all make it through to the end.

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Conflict in Wolf's Ear

-Em relating the events in Wolf’s Ear to someone else (probably Ameiko or Tara, but maybe Sandru or Koya; I’m keeping it pretty general). This would take place upon returning to the caravan after the the events in question.

sigh
Well, that was not our finest moment. Not at all.
Perhaps it will be best for me to first explain what we now know of Wolf’s Ear. Maybe that will help you make more sense of this than I’ve been able to. Wolf’s Ear was founded as a place to send lycanthropes to keep them away from the rest of society; however, several years back, a group of Magnimaran merchants decided they wanted to use it as a trading post. Thus, they came into town, killed off all the werewolves, and set up their own people there. So I guess we expected to find a small trading post with a not too pretty of a history (kind of like Sandpoint almost had) but no current troubles.
That was not to be. Only a couple weeks before our arrival, a werewolf named Twin-Blood Monsoon and his followers had attacked the town as revenge for the previous slaughter of their kindred (which included Monsoon’s father). Evidently the village didn’t put up much resistance, and through their bites lycanthropy was spread to most of the villagers. Monsoon imprisoned the remainder, deeming them weak and unworthy of a place in his society. The village had been relying on merchants for food, doing little of their own farming. Thus Monsoon and his pack turned to caravan raiding to supply themselves, as he had decided it was the natural order for them to prey on those weaker than themselves.
To complicate this, there was a werewolf druid named Lenalia with a rather different opinion of things. I don’t know where she came from. If she was from Wolf’s Ear before the purge, had taken up residence in the area in the mean time, had been converted during Monsoon’s attack, or had some other origin. Regardless, she had since established herself in opposition to Monsoon, believing that lycanthropy was a blessing that must be shared with all of the villagers no matter how many attempts it took to infect them. She also desired to fully isolate Wolf’s Ear from the outsider world.
I don’t know how often direct fighting broke out between Monsoon’s and Lenalia’s packsThe packs, but they were certainly in conflict. Monsoon worked to keep Lenalia’s pack from getting at those who had resisted the initial infection by imprisoning them. Lenalia meanwhile worked to drive off any visiting caravans so that Monsoon’s pack could not steal their supplies while at the same time reinforcing the village’s isolation.
So when we approached Wolf’s Ear this was the situation we unknowingly walked into. That werewolves were present quickly became obvious as Monsoon’s pack attacked the caravan a few hours out. Entering the town itself, it would have seemed oppressively desolate even without the dense fog. As we met Monsoon and his followers, it didn’t take long to realize they were the ones who attacked us, and I held a magically whispered conversation with one of the prisoners who begged us to free them. We negotiated with Monsoon in the mean time, and let him buy some food from us, but as soon as had moved the wagons across the village, we set out to see Lenalia, who Monsoon had only mentioned as a vague enemy of his in the woods.
It didn’t take us long to find Lenalia, who told agreed with our desire to free the villagers and stop the caravan attacks (but she never mentioned her beliefs regarding spreading lycanthropy). Thus, we planned a joint raid for that night where we would handle Monsoon while her pack handled the rest of his pack and then we would free the prisoners.
The assault started perfectly. Lenalia ignited the barn where Monsoon’s pack slept and her pack kept them under control, while we were able to defeat Monsoon himself with surprisingly little difficulty between my fire, Gurzen’s color spray, and Karth’s silversheen-coated blade. When Lenalia unchained the upstairs window where the prisoners were, we believed she was continuing to plan to free them, until the screams changed from the expected “Oh gods, a wolf” to the less expected “Oh gods, my arm.”
With Monsoon unconscious and nearly dead, I rushed to the upstairs room and confronted Lenalia. She answered my question with her blade, making it clear that she had no further interest in working with us. As I retreated, it appeared that some of Monsoon’s lieutenants had defeated Lenalia’s pack at the barn, and they rushed upstairs to fight Lenalia herself. They ultimately killed Lenalia, but in the mean time Gurzen succeeded in getting the prisoners, bitten and unbitten, out. This lead to a tense discussion in which we returned the bound, near-dead Monsoon to his second-in-command, and they let us leave with the prisoners, who he claimed they had been looking for a way to get rid of anyway.

So there you go. I guess on the good end, Lenalia was the only own who died. That feels like pretty shitty consolation, though. We failed to save all of the prisoners before they were bitten, but that’s not what’s really eating me. It’s not even that we were tricked by Lenalia. What really scares me is that while it’s clear we messed up, I don’t see how we could have done better.
Even if we been a little realized the full extent of Lenalia’s intentions, we would have needed her pack’s aid to free the prisoners. Monsoon’s lieutenant said they had planned on releasing the prisoners eventually, and were only keeping them “for their own good,” but given how much he seemed to despise them and the prisoner’s terror, I’m not completely sure I believe that. Even if they had released them, I doubt they would have cared enough to make sure it went well.
Perhaps the end result we got, with Monsoon victorious and the prisoners freed is the best we could have hoped for, but I can’t accept that. Lenalia had problems, but so does Monsoon, and more importantly both cared about their people. Despite clearly doing some bad things, I think they both had some justice to their cause. I can’t even completely see the prisoners as innocent bystanders, given the bloodshed that took place so they could control the town.
I keep telling myself we should be glad, we’re leaving in the morning no worse for the wear, but I can’t stop worrying about what we’re leaving behind. In the best case scenario, future caravan’s avoid Wolf’s Ear and the werewolves starve before they can get crops planted. More likely, I doubt Magnimar will ignore Monsoon’s raiding, and they will once again massacre the inhabitants of Wolf’s Ear as they did before. Even though a few may have been forced into lycanthropy, I can almost imagine things being better with Lenalia in charge. With her isolationism, there may have been a chance of avoiding retaliation from Magnimar, and Wolf’s Ear being able to establish its own, well, probably not peaceful, but not so violent society. But, I doubt that would have worked out either. Maybe we could have found a way to get Monsoon and Lenalia to talk and realize that they had more in common than their differences, and maybe then the town would stand a chance of survival. That still probably wouldn’t lead to peaceful interaction with the rest of the world, much less fair treatment of those who had moved into Wolf’s Ear without any involvement in the original slaughter…
I guess it’s too late anyway, what’s done is done, but… no. I can’t accept that. This isn’t the end of our journey. If I could just figure out what went wrong, we wouldn’t have to see this happen again… but no matter how hard I think, I can’t find a solution… what if there really isn’t one…
Anyway, it’s late, so I guess I should get some sleep. Thanks for listening. We may be leaving Wolf’s Ear in the morning, but I doubt I’ll forget this place that quickly.

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The Rainy Season

Some days, there just aren’t any easy answers.

When we came into Wolf’s Ear, things seemed pretty straightforward. Monsoon and his pack had attacked and tried to rob us when we came into town, and we’d heard it straight from the prisoners’ mouths that the townsfolk had been either turned, dragged off or locked in the inn to rot ever since they’d moved in. To hear him tell it, he had a vendetta, and I get that, but he was still raiding, robbing and abducting, and you know how close to home that hits. So getting help from the other pack to free the prisoners and maybe set things right was just icing on the cake, just confirming what already looked pretty simple and getting a little aid along the way.

But, as it turns out, Monsoon and the others were the only ones keeping the survivors safe from the other pack. Funny thing, she said it was wrong to keep the villagers locked up, and she said she’d help us break them out, but we never thought to ask what her angle was, what she wanted to do with the prisoners once Monsoon was out of the way. Like I said, it seemed pretty simple at the time.

But the thing is, Monsoon is no saint either. I mean, he was keeping the survivors safe, sure, but they wouldn’t have been “survivors” in the first place if it weren’t for him. So what we had wasn’t so much a matter of good versus evil as it was self-serving vs. self-serving. Monsoon and what’s-her-name both came in to conquer the village for their own ends, the only difference is that Monsoon wanted to boot the survivors out and set up a bandit camp and the other one wanted to keep biting the survivors until it stuck and then… I don’t even know. We never really looked that deep, and she’s dead now anyway, so I guess we’ll never find out.

Honestly, I wouldn’t even be all that mad at Monsoon if he wasn’t so dense. His people were driven out of their home, and he wanted to come back and re-take it, maybe take a few people under his wing and boot the others out. I don’t like the way he went about it, taking people by force instead of giving them a choice, but I can understand it even if I don’t really condone it. But then, what’s his plan? Hit all the caravans that come through and steal everything they have, and then sit around and complain when the caravans don’t show up anymore? Gripe about nobody showing up to trade when he’s not producing anything to trade with anyway?

I know how stupid it probably sounds to complain about economics when we’re dealing with a pack of wolves, but I grew up on a caravan and you pick up on this stuff. It’s pretty basic, and it’s important to understand if you want to be a leader instead of a thug. I mean, if Monsoon’s father was part of the village back in the day, I’m sure that this is the kind of thing he would understand, and if Monsoon wants to honor him then he should try and live up to his name instead of just spilling blood for it.

But hey, who am I to judge? Maybe he’s doing what he’s doing because he doesn’t like the way his father did things. I can relate. And considering the way things turned out for his father, maybe he’s right. But still, even if you’re not going to give up the sword—and find, maybe you shouldn’t—at least pick up a shovel and try and build something. Find a balance, be the man and the wolf.

There but for the grace of Desna go I, and if you ask me it’s way too early in this little quest of ours for foils to start popping up. Of course, if you ask Em, she’d probably say it just adds to the excitement, and I should be happy that I’m the first one to get an evil twin, but Em’s excitable and strange like that.

Either way, I think I’d just as soon keep away from all the storytelling for a few days and try to put all this gray behind us. Hopefully Monsoon will understand and won’t take things too personally; we’ve got enough scattered civilizations mad at us already, and we’ve been at it less than a month.

I think there should be some kind of grand flourish to end on here, but like I said, some days there just aren’t any easy answers. So, I think I’m just going to grab some hot tea and wrangle with Tara’s ponies until our next stop.

That problem, at least, is a simple one.

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Welcome to your Adventure Log!
A blog for your campaign

Every campaign gets an Adventure Log, a blog for your adventures!

While the wiki is great for organizing your campaign world, it’s not the best way to chronicle your adventures. For that purpose, you need a blog!

The Adventure Log will allow you to chronologically order the happenings of your campaign. It serves as the record of what has passed. After each gaming session, come to the Adventure Log and write up what happened. In time, it will grow into a great story!

Best of all, each Adventure Log post is also a wiki page! You can link back and forth with your wiki, characters, and so forth as you wish.

One final tip: Before you jump in and try to write up the entire history for your campaign, take a deep breath. Rather than spending days writing and getting exhausted, I would suggest writing a quick “Story So Far” with only a summary. Then, get back to gaming! Grow your Adventure Log over time, rather than all at once.

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