High Valor

Act 2 - Dobhuinn's Journal

1000 Imperus Avi, 1st Aldsdae of First Blossom

Our trip to Fulk has taken a pause. I suppose it was only wishful thinking that we would float down this river long enough to reach the village without incident. This morning, a mere few days since pushing off the shore near Brusq, we found ourselves facing a collapsed bridge blocking the way. If the bridge itself were not enough of an inconvenience, the men fighting over its stone carcass certainly was.

There were men to either side of the river, one clad in green and white livery with the other in blue and gold. The former’s colors I did not recognize but came to learn were those of the Southern Dutchies while the latter were the High King’s colors. The High King stood over all of the free kingdoms though many disputed his right to this task. Among the dissonant stand the Southern Dutchies. Considering our location, it was no surprise to see their men here. It was the Duke of the Southern Dutchies who installed the Iron Wolves for the “protection” of Brusq. It was with good fortune that we found ourselves in the King’s camp this night. While I have no real allegiance to the High King, I have no reason to stand against him. On the other hand, the Iron Wolves gave me little reason to trust the Duke’s men.

Foy and I spoke with the commander in the King’s camp not long ago who informed us of concerning events. He confirmed that the men across these waters were the Duke’s men and that he would not be able to hold this broken bridge for long. In return we informed him of the events at Brusq. Unfortunately, none of the King’s men were available to be posted at Brusq. They were strained holding back the Duke at this pass as well as dealing with the fall of Daralgul, the Black Gate.

It’s with great difficulty that I write those words, “fall of the Black Gate”. This is an event so grim, I cannot imagine the commander described it in error nor that any, of any possible number of speakers to convey this news, could have misspoke it. There is only one Black Gate and any who know of it will know the consequence of its fall. There are dark days ahead of us and here we witness simple men wage war on one another while the Fane stand at the threshold without barrier to deny their entrance. I do not know what matter of man the King is but he at least has the bulk of the Free Kingdoms under his reign. Humans, and all other kinships of men, will be forced to work united if they are to withstand the Fane. Perhaps the Free Kingdoms will be the start of such a resistance.

With these dark events revealed, Foy and I could not stand by to let the Duke’s men hinder the King’s army. What little we two can do, we will. Tonight, with the support of four scouts, we will reconnoiter the Duke’s camp. I am confident that we will find a strategic advantage that could turn the tide of this battle.

Foy is driven by other forces to this cause, namely vengeance. To her, these men are no different from the Iron Wolves, they are men of the Duke. She has been sheltered from the history of the Fane. She has witnessed the evils of men but she is a stranger yet to the darkness that was once confined beyond Daralgul. I can only hope this life has prepared her for what is yet to come. In the meanwhile, I pledge here, as permanent as my ink to this canvass, that I will offer her all the guidance I can until my final breath.

1000 Imperus Avi, 1st Fyrsdae of First Blossom

Hubris. This is the only word I can find to describe my choices. Perhaps I’ve spent too much of my time living in the pages of books and scrolls. It is different to read of blood spilled than to see it. It is different when the blood of others is spilled by choices I have made.

Foy and I narrowly survived the reconnaissance of the Duke’s camp but the four scouts given to our charge did not. Our approach on the camp was flawless but the plan went sour thereafter. Perhaps the High Lord was distracted by the events of Daralgul or perhaps he disagreed with our actions. My magic was no imbued with his will last night. If it were not for Foy’s martial skill and the scouts who fearlessly offered their lives to our cause, foy and I would not have returned to the King’s camp. The morning has arrived and I must now bring this news to the commander.

While our mission was not the success we intended, we did manage to bring chaos to the Duke’s camp, leaving a number of tents in flames. Perhaps the unplanned havoc we brought to the Duke’s camp will work to our benefit. All will be answered on the battlefield today.

I have also recalled historic writings of a similar battle and may have some tactical advice to help today’s battle. If the King’s men do not succeed in their push on the Duke’s men today, this position will be lost and the Duke’s men will inevitably force the Kings men back and prolong the fighting allowing few resources to deal with what may come from Daralgul.

Regardless of how this day ends, helping the commander is the least I can do out of respect for the scouts who followed me to their death. I hope there does not come a day where I am writing words of this nature with regard to Foy.

1000 Imperus Avi, 1st Solsdae of First Blossom

The news of Daralgul has weighed heavily on me. My previous entries are evidence of a burdened state of mind. Today’s events glow with good tidings, and just as the Duke’s men at the batlle of the bridge were driven back , so are these dark clouds that hang over me.

Foy commanded the archers on the hillside while I stood at the Commander’s side, offering council based on my memory of historic scrolls that accounted a similar battle.

Foy’s command of the archers was important to keeping the enemy from advancing on the riverside. This allowed the King’s men to advance across the bridge. Once on firm ground, they could fight more effectively.

The Duke’s men had this long kept the King’s men at bay with the use of the river and broken bridge. They grew overconfident that they could hold the King’s men at bay using this terrain feature. What they did not take notice of was the segment of river from which little plant life grew. The flora tells us much of the land if we are willing to listen. The lack of plant life along a river is a strong indication of firmer ground, ground by which our units could cross with greater ease. By this path, a number of the King’s men crossed the river to flank the Duke’s units.

While outnumbered, the King’s men drove the Duke’s men back from the bridge. It would be foolish of me to speculate on all the possible causes of today’s success. For now, I will simply accept the good fortune with gratefulness.

With this battle behind us, we soon leave for Fulk. The men have helped carry our boat to the far side of the collapsed bridge. It is important that we continue our path to Fulk and I feel more at peace with the four scouts who will not be returning home. With hope, their deaths will be one link in the chain of events that will eventually help man brave the coming storm. I do not know what lies down this river, waiting for Foy and I.

1000 Imperus Avi, 2nd Trysdae of First Blossom

I am still weak from spider venom. I woke moments ago as the tincture brings on a deep sleep. This is not my first encounter with poison and the Atterlothe will make quick work of it at the cost of leaving my mouth a shade of blue for the next day. Atterlothe has a bitterness that bites as badly as the spider itself but it is a small price to pay in exchange for the privilege of keeping ones legs to walk upon. The ability to walk is something I will be in great need of tomorrow as the river allows no further passage to our previous transport. We are but a couple day’s travel from fulk so we can be grateful that the boat brought us this far.

As if the news of the Black Gate were not enough, we came upon twelve stone statue effigies of the Fane Lords this morning. They may once have stood complete along side the river a thousand years ago in the times of the Old Empire but now they lurch over the water with broken portions cast atop the riverbed. We assumed the thirteenth had crumbled completely, offering its destruction to aid in blocking our way. As our boat could not continue, we left it behind and took to foot. Already the Fane vex us.

Foy did not react well to the statues. She attacked one but was unable to topple it. What remained stood strong, having survived against the ages. I fear the same is true for the creatures these stone forms represent.

In this moment, Foy recounted her childhood at the Brusq church. The children were unkind, brandishing the fears of their parents as weapons without the social experience to keep them sheathed. The residing Mother encouraged Foy to forgive. By way of the High Lord’s teachings, Foy suppressed her desire for vengeance and, as she stated, “found another way around”. As so now, having the leave behind our transportation, we found another way around.

Though she displays it often, it is difficult to say if Foy’s fiery nature is one indicative of the Sidhain. Any child in her circumstance would want to retaliate. By comparison, she is no more difficult to agitate than the brutish Gunthar was. I will still add note of it in my Sidhain research.

From the river, we had to make way through swampy forested area. This normally would not bother me but the air was far too still, void of sound. The lush green of the plants were proof life once thrived here but those days have past.

As we pushed onward, the fog obscured the forest’s secret until it was too late. Webbing hung from trees as morbid silk tapestries woven by unusually large Araneae. I could not react to the movement of shadow over my shoulder before I felt the bite on my leg. Foy turned quickly to loose arrows and with gratitude to my failing legs we would not be testing Foy’s aim as my collapse offered her an unobstructed view of the dangling predator.

I could feel the burning sensation and was all too familiar with what would come in the next moments. I dug out my poison pouch, prepared for such occasions and started to chew on Atterlothe root. The tase is frightfully awful but when forced with a choice where death is an option, we tend to be much less discriminating of the remaining options. What followed is a blur but I believe there were two, perhaps three, other spiders and single-handedly, Foy dispatched them all. While my wisdom for making this journey can be questioned, none can question my choice of traveling companion.
The feeling my my leg was gone as Foy setup camp there in the woods. The Atterlothe root was only a temporary solution and I got straight to work on brewing up a better remedy. This makeshift camp was no comparison to my lab in Brusq but it would do. I made sure to bring enough equipment to make what may be needed but without overburdening myself.

As I steeped the remaining AtterLothe, I told Foy about one of my first experiences with poison. She was unsurprised that I had been poisoned before. Perhaps I should find offense in that but I cannot deny the truth of it. In my apprenticeship under an apothecary near Eldford, I was sent to fetch more Atterlothe for him. He stated that in return, he would teach me how to perpare the very tincture I prepared this night. What he didn’t state is how Atterlothe tends to attract the very snakes it protected against. Perhaps as some cosmic joke, one could be poisoned and even find their death with the remedy sprouting just an arm’s length away. And so, I fetched the Atterlothe but not after receiving the burning bite from some treacherous serpent unwilling to stay long enough to witness its handiwork. Not knowing better, I started to chew on the bitter root and quickly stumbled back to the apothecary. He could barely prepare the antidote through his laughter at my dazed look and blue stain running down my chin. He, too, had once been sent on such an errand but was not bit though had heard of many who have. Some many apothecaries hold this secret as a rite of passage in their profession but my memory of that incident is not nearly fond enough to keep me from sharing it. There was a lesson to be learned, besides one of trust: Sometimes the solution to a problem is closer than we realize.

1000 Imperus Avi, 2nd Ersdae of First Blossom

I must write this entry now in hopes that it will unburden my mind and grant me restful sleep tonight. I have seen that which man should not be made to see.

We arrived at Fulk at dusk. As if it were not enough that the neighboring forest was draped in webbing, the entire town is as well. This a most unnatural infestation. With night fast on our heels we were forced to take shelter.

We took to the local ale house. The interior was wrecked but at least there was no webbing within it. We were able to start a fire in the hearth that laid in the center of the room. The windows had already been boarded up from both inside and out and this offered some security against what must be waiting outside. I have not missed the Black Barrel while on this journey as much as I have tonight.

After spending some time in the ale house, we heard scraping on the rooftop. We believed it to be more of the man-size spiders we fought previously and I was painfully aware that I had no Atterlothe left. Now I only wish it had been those spiders.

Foy investigated the sound and found herself looking into the many, and human-like, eyes of a spider far larger than those we faced earlier. Unlike the spider’s dark blank gaze, this creature’s eyes professed some form of awareness, an intelligence. I have read folklore of such beasts, giant spiders with human eyes, used as mounts by the fane lords. The texts referred to them as spinners.

Even though the beast was far too large to enter the building through any existing entrance, there was no evidence it was trying. We knew we could not face it in the dark and instead slept in shifts, hoping we would stand a better chance of escape in the morning hours. Our host did not prove so gracious.

I woke to Foy’s screams and in the dim lit room could hear them echo from the new hole burrowed up through the ground. Racing out the ale house, I could see the immense creature scurry into the granary with a sack dangling from two of its spindly legs.

By the time I reached the inside of the granary, I could see Foy hung upside down from the tower’s center, wrapped tightly in strong silk but no sign of the Spinner. The tower reached up into darkness and I could only speculate that it waited somewhere above. I had to act quickly. I stacked boxes to climb up to foy and was able to get to her hunting knife to start cutting away the thick strands that encased her.

Having learned my lesson in the woods yesterday, I took notice of the shadow that fell over my shoulder this time but while up on these precariously stacked boxes, I had few directions to go. Impulsively, I leapt to Foy, grabbing hold of her in one arm and cutting the the thread that suspended her with the knife. I can still feel the soreness of that fall now and no doubt will for days.

Foy was not yet free and the spider was moments from descending on us both. I called on the winds to send a vortex up the tower’s interior, sending the spider up with it. That should have given us enough time to escape but after releasing Foy it was apparent she was not willing to leave so soon.

Foy readied an arrow as the winds subsided and the spinner dropped down towards us, each of its human eyes glaring at us in anger. Foy’s arrow glanced off the spinner’s hard shell and it pinned her to the ground. I tried to pry it off her as she struggled beneath it but it spat in my face, blinding me momentarily.

Foy must have landed a solid blow from beneath the creature because it released its grapple and scurried up into the darkness of the tower. This could have been our chance to flee but Foy would not have it. The Spinner began its next assault before I could press my case for our exit.

More arrows fly from Foy’s bow, some hitting the mark while others are unable to penetrate the creature’s armor. Knowing how the cold slows any spider unlucky enough to not have found shelter for the first freeze of the Ice Tide, I tried to wrangle the powers of chill North Winds. This did not entirely have the effect I intended. The Ice Tide engulfed the town of Fulk, quickly draining the warmth from the air around us. The chill bit into our skin and captured our breaths in quick puffs of smoke that told of our exertion.

The spinner reacted to this as well and dropped from its thick thread onto Foy but not before she could bring her spear upwards, impaling the beast on it. Skewered on the spear, the spinner continued to tear at Foy. With the Ice Tide storm raging outside, I called on more of the elements to join the fray. Lightning struck down on the tip of the spear, leaving a sickly burnt smell in the cold air. Yet, the spinner would not relent.

With some effort, Foy managed to free herself from beneath the spinner and I called lightning down on the building itself. Snow and pieces of the tower fell from above and the room was dimly lit by moon and lightning. I grabbed Foy by the arm, insisting we take this opportunity to escape but she threw me off and continued after the spinner. Neither her nor the spinner would quit this skirmish by choice.

The spinner spat at Foy, blinding her. With the last of my will, I held off the spinner’s attacks with lightning called down from the storm. Despite not having her sight Foy drew an arrow and sank it deep into the head of the beast and its attack ceased as its legs slowly pulled up into itself.

Do the Sidhain have additional senses beyond we Humans? I know Foy moves in the darkness far better than any Human could and have always attributed this keen sight to those serpent-like eyes. However, even when robbed of those unnatural eyes, she landed a shot most seasoned hunters could not. Could this be some hidden Sidhain talent, the High Lord’s favor for who must be his most devout Sidhain follower, or just, pardon the phrase, blind luck? Regardless, I graciously accept this outcome even if I never understand how we came to reach it.

The storm raged outside the granary though all was still within it. The spinner was draped over the debris with its legs curled around a mound of broken boxes as if clinging onto life. Those human-like eyes stared at us for an uncomfortably long moment before beginning to move each of their own accord. The eyes darted about without any sense of unity and one by one, each eye sprung from its socket, revealing itself to be the body of a smaller spider. I watched in horror as the last of the eyes scurried out of the spinner and off into the dark night. I know not if Foy’s sight had returned to see this but neither of us spoke of it thereafter.

We have dragged ourselves back to the ale house and now I only hope I can get some peaceful sleep though the eye spiders will continue to haunt me. There was no mention of this is the texts I have read. To whom will these evil messengers scurry? The storm should subside soon but for now, it is keeping any other spiders at bay. We leave for the farm in the morning.

1000 Imperus Avi, 2nd Varsdael of First Blossom

We reached the farm this morning and there is little left of it. The stories were true, it had been razed to the ground. Such is the fear of man, to destroy all that they do not understand.

Something caught Foy’s eye along the edge of the nearby woods. I followed her glare and saw a shadowy figure disappear into the trees. Before words of warning could reach my lips, Foy was off in a full sprint after the figure. I recall writing something about my wisdom in my choice of traveling companion and I may yet be corrected on this matter.

I caught up with Foy and only moments later did my remaining life catch up with me. My lungs and legs burned and I was in no shape for another scuffle. I arrived fully prepared to surrender.

This was not necessary. Foy and I stood before the figure who looked back at us free of apprehension. We stood in a shaded grove which, for a welcome change of pace, had an air of peacefulness to it. The figure itself had an unusual presence as if it were not present at all. Even in this shadowed grove, where the light fell strange, the figure appeared as if it were a shadow itself, given form by something other than light. This was later made even more apparent when the shadow offered its hand to the sunlight, under which it faded from sight.

The shadow spoke, with a woman’s voice, softly and directly to Foy. She said she has been expecting Foy. She introduced herself as Lavreal soulcrier, a Sidda. I have read very little of the Sidda but nothing I read prepared me for the conversation that followed. This sidda spoke strangely as though she could see realms we could not and with a confused sense of time.

Of what I could understand, this Sidda believes her people to have created the Sidhain a thousand years ago and in doing so have made a terrible mistake but would not speak further on it. Believing the Sidhain were her and her people’s burden to bear, Lavreal did what she could to protect the Sidda at the Fulk farm, including Foy. At that time, there were others with Lavreal who helped bring Foy to the church at Brusq but now she is the only one left and has been waiting for Foy’s return.

Lavreal spoke of “light” and “dark” Sidda. Those who embraced the High Lord with reverence and those who turned away in shame. She spoke that the Fane knew of the Sidhain and feared them. She spoke of truth and directed us to seek the “palace of shadows” though we do not know what this is place is. Lavreal then left Foy with the following words: “You must do great things for you are the last of your family.” With that, she faded into the shadows having delivered this message to Foy that she waited all these years to do.

I write these words now for once I sleep, I may no be able to separate these events from dream. I started an entry to document my experiences with the Sidda. These are truly remarkable though enigmatic beings.

We leave in the morning for Daralgul. I fear what we may see but we must understand the state of things to better devise a plan to overcome it. This must sound of foolishness but to run from these dangers now would only mean facing them later at a disadvantage. There are truths yet uncovered that may help prepare our people for the coming days.

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The Martyr's Dream (Foy)

Every night, since I was a girl, I dream the same.

I lie on my back, stretched across a chariot wheel, looking up into the fiery eyes of Dhaemnhuil the Raging – a great, beastly figure. From all sides, I see the Fane Lords and their Priests – silently, frantically, whispering. From the whispers, I hear one rise above them all, saying, “Will you sacrifice?” I reply “yes” and that moment, Dhaemnhuil tightens the straps, pulling my limbs tighter. I feel my cartilage pop, but against the pain I remain silent. My eyes are locked on my torturer, and his determination is evident. The whispers grow louder, and I hear once more above them, “When the time comes, will you make this sacrifice for them all?” I look around, even at the Fane, and answer, “yes” as the straps pull ever tighter and I feel my limbs tear from me…

Every night I dream the same. Every time I wake, my eye is wet. High Lord, whatever you ask, I beg I’m worthy.

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Act 1 - Dobhuinn's Journal

1000 Imperus Avi, 1st Ersdae of Heaven’s Weep

On an otherwise normal Ersdae, something noteworthy took place this afternoon. While out collecting fresh Deilen Ddu on the outskirts of Arborfell Wood, a travelers’ cart was assailed by a pair of Iron Wolves on the edge of the woods. This, in itself, was not the event worthy of note. The mercenaries demanded the usual toll we’ve heard told of by some travelers to Brusq, the I’m sure many others have stayed silent for fear of repercussion. What is worthy of note was the noble arrow that took flight from within the forest to the defense of the travelers. It fell wide of the mercenary it was intended for but was still effective in distracting the two Wolves from their prey.

The mercenaries, swords already in hand, moved towards the source of the shot. From the unmoving glare in their eyes, I could tell they could already see the archer where I could not. Whoever fired the shot was up in the trees. I knew none in Brusq who would dare to stand against the Iron Wolves and my curiosity kept my feet rooted behind the safety of a stout Oak.

My curiosity was greatly rewarded in the moments that followed. A woman dropped gracefully from an Ash, silently rolling to a kneeling stance and letting loose an arrow that felled one of the Wolves. She could do little against the second Wolf who knocked her to the wooded ground.

Against better judgment, I intervened. Giving away my position, I called on the chill winds of the North to stop the mercenary and the High Lord punished my hubris. A great chill blasted through me, leaving my fingertips blackened as if bit by the Ice Tide. I would like to think I provided a distraction but only saw the last moments of the woman tearing apart the Wolf with a hunter’s knife. Barely before my body’s warmth could melt the ice within my bones, I retreated for my home in Brusq.

I only saw her briefly in those moments. She was no woman of Brusq and moved with the grace and ferocity of an animal. I will not forget her eyes as they were the yellow eyes of a serpent. For a moment, I thought my mind was playing tricks on me, brining the local story of the “Arborfell Demon” to life, a story I have heard many mothers tell their children to keep them from misbehaving or running off from sight. This demon, this woman, was not only very real but was not malignant forest spirit but a protector of Brusq. Why, though, and by who’s charge?

1000 Imperus Avi, 2nd Morndae of Heaven’s Weep

My transciprtion work continues for the Church of Brusq and I have been reminded of the past events I witnessed in Arborfell Woods. While sorting through the crate of documents I came across one errantly misplaced or carefully hidden, which described an orphan girl who lived in the church many years past. She was one of many orphans who found a home in the church at that time but unlike the others, she had eyes described as “yellow” and “snake-like”. She was Sidhain. The woman I saw in the woods appeared to be an age which fits the dates on these documents. I have no doubt that the girl described in this document is who I saw in the woods, wrongly believed to be a demon. From the description of the girl’s troubles here in Brusq, it’s no mystery what drove her from it’s warm homesteads to the wilds but something kept her near.

These documents place her arrival curiously around the same time as the plague known as the “Fulk Farm Pox” in record and the “Sidhain Blood Harvest” in whispers, though some whisper louder than others. It resulted in the fall of Fulk and mention a local farm that employed Sidhain farmhands which was believed to the source of the plague. A number of orphans found a home in the church at that time and this girl, Foy, was among them.

Is this why she is here, why she stands for the men and women of Brusq? Could this truth been buried all these years, beneath these more mundane pages of the church’s history?

As if these findings were not unusual enough in their timing or content, I also found evidence showing that the Sidda and Sidhain aided the Human kin against the cursed Fane Lords. By the nine, could the High Lord’s guiding hand be any less subtle? I must admit my curiosity is stoked hotter than Bruno’s forge. I must seek her out. I need to understand her a little better prior to bringing any of this information before the Church.

1000 Imperus Avi, 2nd Aldsdae of Heaven’s Weep

I have finally gathered the courage to enter the woods in search of Foy. So eager and fearful of what I may find, it was not until I entered the edge of Arborfell that I realized I had no way of finding this woman. She is not some spirit to be summoned with herbs and well-crafted words, after all. I could only hope that her vigilance would witness my arrival, that her bravery would greet me, and that her patience would give me time to prove my peaceful intentions. Hope was all I was armed with. Well, hope and agrimony. My Father and Mother bestowed upon this world: two men, one woman, and no fools.

Listening intently for sounds in the woods, I was late to hear the sound of Hooves from the dirt road behind me. I quickly took behind a tree and uttered words with the intent to conceal myself but instead I shown bright even against Lyr’s daylight. The three men on horseback, more of Iron Wolves, called to attention. I must sadly admit that wielding magic is an art and some days the dyes run thin. Perhaps there is some lesson from the High Lord I have yet to understand and I need to make better judicious use of magic in the future. Perhaps, this was fate.

With the Wolves closing on my position, Foy sprung out from the woods as a lion roused from its den. The battle that ensued will not be one to be sung in any songs but the mercenaries were driven off and continued towards Brusq. Foy gave choice and I followed far behind as my glowing pretense slowly weakened as a candle’s flame running out of wick to burn. At that moment, I understood the wick in its final moments but my fire has yet to be extinguished.

I arrived, unseen, in Brusq just in time to hear the Iron Wolves’ speech offering payment of those who could gave information on Arborfell she-devil and offering equal punishment for those withholding such information.

Hearing enough, I returned to the woods where I found Foy, cleaning a dear carcass. I shared with her my findings at the Church. The Church had taught her well. Not only was she well spoken for a woodland creature but she could read as well.

It was obvious to us both that we and possibly Brusq were less safe from the Iron Wolves than before, for the hornet’s nest had been rattled. While I had many questions yet to ask, dealing with the Wolves demanded our immediate attention. With my last encounter with them, I doubt I could safely stay in my home for much longer. Foy and I continued our discussion, crafting a plan to be hatched the following evening.

1000 Imperus Avi, 2nd Solsdae of Heaven’s Weep, Morning

Lyr has just broke over the horizon and I sit now within the Iron Wolves camp, surrounded by still carnage. Between yesterday and today, it is amazing for me to be recording an entry at all. As may be evident by my wavering script, I am lucky I can hold this quill at all. While I am able to stay awake, I will recount the events of yesterday, 2nd Fyrsdae of Heaven’s Weep

I spoke with my good friend, Euric, yesterday morning. I planned to present the mercenary camp with an offering of Euric’s dark ale. I had no doubt the ale would be popular with the Wolves and with the proper amount of Mandrake, a very restful night was ahead of them. Euric was not aware of my plans to “spice” the ale. While I did not enjoy keeping my friend in the dark, it was safest that he did not know of my plans should anything go wrong.

I prepared the necessary documents for the transport of the ale from Brusq to the Iron Wolves camp. These documents would be useful in procuring a cart as well as reducing suspicion among the Wolves.

I arrived at the camp by dusk yesterday. Through a careful exchange of words, I convinced Fenris the Red, captain of the Iron Wolves, that I was not in league with the “Arborfell demon”. Not only was the barrel readily accepted by the mercenaries but I was offered a position among their guard for that night. This granted me access to the camp though at much personal risk. I could only hope Foy was ready to strike when I gave the signal last night.

All Wolves who were not to be on watch that night took full advantage of Euric’s ale. They drank competitively and if the contest’s prize were a good night’s sleep then I would say they all won that evening. For any who will survive to see today, I doubt they would enjoy this victory.

The High Lord blessed us with a dim evening as two of three moons hung low on the horizon. The mercenary watch relied greatly on the torches to pierce the darkness that stood between the camp and treeline. Foy would have the cover of darkness once I could put out some of these torches, the signal we agreed on for her to invade the camp. Putting out the torches would prove to be more difficult than it may sound.

My advantage of having access to the camp was diminished by Fenris’ insistence that I be accompanied at all times. His years of dealing with the unscrupulous have taught him to handle his trust as merchants handle their coin. Accompanied by a Wolf atop the camp rampart, I only needed to find a way to afford enough time to speak the shadowverse needed to call in the winds to blow out these torches. Waiting for the wolf to relieve himself over the wall, I spoke the words that would turn a calm night to absolute chaos.

In looking back now, I wish I had the courage to have pushed the Wolf from the camp wall. The thought had crossed my mind and my arms reached out nearly far enough to reach him but I simply could not bring myself to perform the deed. I felt an inexplicable and overwhelming wave of grief wash over me. With little time to spare, I called on the winds to extinguish the flames.

As I have often noted before, there is far more to wielding magic than well spoken words. I often do not understand the High Lords intent. So very often my call to magic brings unexpected effects but on occasion he grants me amazing success. I continue to try to understand his ways but I digress. The winds arrived but did not extinguish the torches. The flames rose to unusual heights, flaring wildly to the sky, throwing bursts of light on the camp. My Wolf escort would not stay surprised for long so I took advantage of the opportunity this gave me, and ran.

I had few places to hide as torches’ unpredictable flailing chased shadows within the camp. I made my way behind some tents, calling on fire to set others ablaze. Fenris had burst from his tent, bellowing curses and orders. Some Wolves tried ineffectually to wake their brethren who enjoyed their specially prepared ale while others on the rampart pointed towards the wood and shouting in alarm indicating Foy’s arrival, as I hoped.

I was unable to hide for long and eventually came face to face with Fenris, a man intimidating enough when he wasn’t brandishing a weapon in my direction. Knocked to the ground by his men, Fenris was intent on ending me. With great focus I called on the High Lord’s storm lance as Fenris raised his blade. With a loud crack, a burst of white-blue light struck down on Fenris and he collapsed to the ground. While Fenris was no more, true to their dedication to their pack, his men continued to operate as if taking his command from beyond the grave.

Foy arrived the in moments that follow and had she not, I am certain I would not be writing this entry today. I exhausted every drop of energy my will could muster but could not stand against the remaining Wolves. I only learned of our victory when I awoke the this morning.

I’m in need of some rest and will try later tonight to have an update for today’s events. There is still a full day ahead of me and I am uncertain what may come of it. I must admit that recent events have rekindled the wanderlust within me.

1000 Imperus Avi, 2nd Solsdae of Heaven’s Weep, Evening

It has been an eventful day and I need to make note of this before I drift into slumber.

My life of work for the Order of the Scroll have not hardened me to withstand the hardships of battle. My body pulsed with pain. I felt forcefully aware of myself as if my entire being screamed in defiance of years of neglect. I prepared a tincture which would only muffle the screams until time could silence the pain.

Foy was still alive but battered, her arm broken. I supplied her with a healing tea and dressed her wounds. If any mercenaries survived the night they had already deserted their camp. Foy and I were the only living souls left within the camp walls.

We gathered what strength we could along with all that we could salvage from the camp. Weapons, including Fenris’ sword, which now hangs defiantly at Euric’s Black Barrel Alehouse, and a chest we found in Fenris’ tent that was filled with coins I am sure were taken forcefully from many of Brusq’s coin purses. These coins were to be returned to the town of Brusq along with the other supplies.

I returned to Brusq with all but the coins, which Foy would bring to the Church later that night. As I drove the cart to the town square, there were few who had to be called out to hear the announcement I would make there. In a town as small as Brusq, word travels quickly and few expected my return that day.

This day, I revealed the truth to Brusq: that the oppressive Wolves had been driven off and that their Demon of the Woods was no demon at all. Many refused to believe Foy was involved in protecting the town all this time but it would be more difficult to believe that I drove off the mercenaries on my own and my cart had all the proof needed that the Wolves were indeed driven off: the banners, weapons, and most telling, Fenris’ sword. It helped greatly that Mother Hadewig, of the Brusq Church, stepped forward to speak on Foy’s behalf. While many are still hesitant, others are no longer as fearful of Foy as they were. Brunhild remains vocally defiant but then, when isn’t she? Lucky for me, the town are accustomed to her rantings.

There was great revelry tonight. Euric kept The Black Barrel open late tonight and the townfolk rejoiced without fear of the Wolfs and with little fear of the Demon of the Woods. It was as if all evil were vanquished outside the town walls. While we all know this is not so, it does not hurt the folk of Brusq to have their night of comfort.

During the festivities, I excused myself to visit the Church. I knew Foy planned to visit Mother Hadewig to deliver the Wolves’ ill-gotten coin. When I arrived, the cart stood in the dark behind the Church and two acolytes were retrieving it. I sent one back inside and took up one end of the chest to help the other carry it in.

Within the Church, we brought the chest to a room where Foy and Mother Hadewig were deep in conversation. They had much to discuss. I expected the news I delivered to the town would be difficult for both the town and Foy after falsehood had so many years to stain their beliefs. As I told Foy, revealing the truth was necessary. Falsehood is little different than sickness and truth is required for treatment.

Before I left the Church, I suggested that Foy stay at the Church. Staying in the town would be good for her, help the healing process while giving her the comfort of the place she once called home. I offered that she should visit the tavern but did not press the suggestion as I felt it would be overwhelming for her. After planting these seeds, I left to enjoy one of Euric’s ales at The Black Barrel. Along with the rest of Brusq, I felt entitled to some relaxation.

When I was leaving The Black Barrel to retire for the night, I was pleasantly surprised to see Foy stalking away. I smiled, knowing the healing had already begun and Foy is proving to be a quick healer. Perhaps this ability to adapt is an aspect of the Sidhain nature. I look forward to learning more of her kind for I feel there is far more than the fearful tales that have taken such deep root in these lands.

Now, I need some sleep.

1000 Imperus Avi, 1st Tyrsdae of First Blossom

It has been some time since I have updated my journal. The days have been filled with work and great progress in the healing of this town and Foy. Mutual acceptance between Foy and the town has not been easy, nor is it complete but these things take time and I am happy with its progress. Brunhild will never accept Foy and Gunthar’s acceptance is forced but this is to be expected for the two most stubborn folk of this town.

While Brunhild’s stubborness is insurmountable, Gunthar’s was dealt with by force, the only method that could work with such a brute. When Foy offered to train the militia, Gunthar argued there was nothing Foy could teach the men of Brusq and so the proverbial gauntlet was thrown and Foy was to dual with Gunthar.

The town took delight in the match between Foy and Gunthar and to the surprise of many, Foy’s nimble martial abilities far exceeded Gunthar’s raw strength. He lumbered about with heavy swings which led devastation but none could land where Foy stood as her animal reflexes kept her deftly moving around him. The match was called in Foy’s favor and anger overcame Gunthar who drew a hidden blade to attack the unsuspecting Foy. I called out to her in warning and with great speed she kicked the blade from his hand. The dishonor wounded Gunthar more deeply than the loss of the match. It will be some time before he is able to wash himself of this shame.

Having seen her martial prowess, the town was quick to accept Foy’s help and have spent many days under her tutelage. I have been busy helping them deal with the soreness that comes with vigorous training. My days have been spent making tincures for the pain and salves for minor cuts and bruises. None of the Wolves weapons will protect the town of Brusq any better than the knowledge from Foy that they now wield.

As I expected, Foy and I will leave for Fulk today. I knew it would only be a matter of time for her to heal with the town and for her to give the town the knowledge they need to protect themselves in the future. While the threat of the Wolves was removed, there are endless threats that remain in the world and it is only a matter of time before they visit this small town.

I feel it is important to note that I am not manipulating Foy in anyway to take on this journey to Fulk but I do feel it is best for her. I believe the truth of her past lies there. I admit though, that my desire to travel to Fulk with Foy is also self-serving. In Fulk, I will uncover pieces of lost history, both Fulk’s and Foy’s history. To add, I cannot even dream of what I will learn of the Sidhain by traveling with one. This is an extraordinary opportunity.

Before I leave for the boat to Fulk, I must mention a bright moment from this morning. It is a good omen, a message from the High Lord, himself. This is a sign that I am on the proper path. With the busy days, my stock of herbs are nearly empty. I was forced to wander deep into the woods to restock. There, I came upon a small waterfall which captured my attention for quite some time. While watching the water flow down the hillside, my mind was transported home to Albae, to Aes Foilsigh [Ays FOY-el-sigh].

The Aes Foilsigh glowed a light blue even against the night, lighting the open land around it such it would drown out any nearby torchlight. While much smaller, this waterfall near Brusq reminded me greatly of it. The water moved briskly with clarity, sparkling from Lyr’s rays. To me, it stands as a symbol of beauty and truth. Even though I am reminded of a sad day in my past, it carries with it a certain serenity. I must tell Foy of this finding. I feel it is a sign of the peace Brusq now has and that we are ready to move on with our journey.

When I was a child, my older brother, Luag [LOO ak], and I would often steal away to play near the Aes Foilsigh, even against the wishes of our Father and Mother. We would bring with us a small boxes, in which we planned to catch farries we believed to be near the river into which the falls ran. While we never filled our boxes, we were certain there must be farries nearby. What else could bring such a magic glow to the waters we never dared to touch?

The last time I visised Aes Foilsigh with my brother, the waters took him. He fell in, striking his head on a stone and I was unable to bring myself to go in after him. I could see his eyes peacefully looking back on me from under the clear waters, his body engulfed in the blue glow in the moments before I ran for home. Against the fear of the trouble we would be in, I called on my Father who returned to Aes Foilsigh with friends but my brother was beyond their aid and was laid to rest the following day.

My Father and Mother punished me no further for having visited the falls, knowing well my grief was punishment enough. Without my brother, I am left only with a sister, Sorcha [SOH ruh chuh], who spends these days in Albae married to a good man with a talent for woodcrafting.

Since my brother’s passing, I returned to those waters many times. I would view them at a distance, enjoying the truth in their clarity, and the serenity in their blue glow. I remember the eyes of my brother looking back through the water peacefully on me, apologizing for having brought me the Aes Foilsigh against our parent’s will.

[Dobhuinn does not remember the events of Aes Foilsigh as they actually occurred. Visiting the falls was Dobhuinn’s idea. His brother did not want to cross his parents but Dobhuinn badgered him into going. Further, Dobhuinn dared Luag to touch the waters. Dobhuinn did not believe the local stories that one would be turned into some woodland creature at the water’s touch. After Luag gathered up the courage to touch the waters, he reached out from the water’s edge to dip his finger in when Dobhuinn gave him a shove into the water. It was meant to be a joke on Luag but Luag struck his head on a stone in the river as he fell into the water. Dobhuinn was struck with fear, unable to move as he stared down at his older brother. When he finally came to his senses, he ran home for help, unable to bring himself to go into the water. Dobhuinn is unaware of this truth, but the guilt of his brother’s death exists deep within him, manifesting in ways he does not realize.]

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