Ptolus: Blood in the Streets
April 30, 2011 – The Transformation
The balance between life and death, good and evil, and right and wrong are blurred….they have no clear meanings for me. There is only loyalty for my comrades and revenge upon those who have taken them away from me. Lately, I have been dreaming of Arvandor…elven wine, the sweet smell of fresh honey bread, sounds that emanate from the beautiful gittern…….Kaleb…Celeste…mother…father. Then there is just blackness, so much murky blackness. Even in my deepest meditation to seek a calming clarity, I am constantly interrupted with painful lightning white flashes that seem to get more and more intense as the days go on. At times, symbols appear which are similar to ones I have seen during my studies with Lucien… Lucien, my dear old friend, I will avenge you…Merris will pay. These images appear to alter themselves sporadically as if they mean to communicate and become one with me; at this point, it is difficult for me to interpret their significance… so much intensity, I will always be in control. My hand and forearm are beginning to undergo some sort of change; the same runes I see over and over again during my meditations are now taking physical form…lightly etched marks…beautifully drawn marks on my delicate skin…except during the times I’ve dabbled with my newfound gifts; they become raised welts that burn with extreme annoyance. Lucien warned me of the fine equilibrium I must always be cognizant of when playing with the sixth gift… they will all pay for taking them away from me…use the Sixth to destroy them! The natural order of things dictates that negative energy takes positive energy and scatters it, resulting in chaos within a living thing, entropy and more commonly, death. These should not be ignored nor can be ignored; life magic is the foundation of death and destruction.
Dreams of the black moth interfere with my reflections; I dare not open him. Without Lucien, I can no longer learn what I need to in order to fully dominate this tome. I must isolate myself to conduct further research; apparently, he is not too fond of an audience… yes, yes, we will have time to ourselves to get to know one another better. Stop pestering me! I don’t have the slightest idea as to what occurred the night Baffin decided to disappear; he appeared completely frustrated. All I know is that he and I were suppose to study him together, which of course, thrilled me. His flagrant enthusiasm intensified my curiosity even further to open him, which I did, then…darkness. When I came to, puppy, Snow, and the bard all looked as if they barely escaped some horrendous thrashing. Hmmm, an extraordinary thing has happened here…I don’t remember a thing. Lately, I feel myself slipping…there are these “emotions” I have never quite experienced before: rage, hate, and frustration. All human weaknesses which must be squeezed out of me before it enters my blood like some putrid toxin… I can use this poison to amplify the Sixth…they will all die for their sins. At any rate, we (what’s left of us) must find Shialis; I don’t know who I can trust anymore. I wish father were here. I should have been home with them…I should have perished with them…I should not be here… yes, yes, use this anger Ophelia. Use it to fuel the Sixth. The map father left me will lead me to the ones that did this…don’t worry father, I will protect and preserve our ancestry. I hope Baffin is still alive and in hiding; Merris may be looking for him as well. No matter, I will find her and destroy her.
- The lot of man – to suffer and to die.
February 19, 2011 – the ramblings of an eladrin
I feel something in the air; it feels heavier and constricting. My senses seem duller, like my head is cloudy. I don’t know if it has anything to do with Leska possibly being nearby or the fact that so much has happened in Gate Pass. My body feels exhausted. It’s as if I can feel the residual energy of all who have died and suffered here. My faith in my comrades and Corellon keep my spirits up, but sometimes the amount of turmoil and loss overwhelms me, though I would never speak of such things with anyone. I am relieved Snow is back to her old normal self again….well, normal for her I suppose. I do enjoy watching the tension between Baffin and Snow. It’s quite comical but can be tiresome as well. Baffin’s been hit by Snow enough times for me to think that he’s a masochist. I really should just lock them up in a room to find out how long Baffin stays alive. The pet gnoll is endearing but his snide comments makes me want to throw a leash on him and take him for a walk……and then there’s Moog and Vennman….There’s too much sadness involved so I think I won’t say anymore.
It’s fascinating how much other beings put so much emphasis on time. It feels like I’m always being hurried. I suppose it may have something to do with life span; they see things fly by in a second and there is never enough time to catch up to it. All I see is a world where events move at a natural pace and I care not to compete against its movement.
A man named Ferris(I believe) blessed me with the most magnificent staff I’ve ever seen. It would most likely take me some time to fully understand and completely remove any hold the previous owner had on it. So far, he’s served me well. I have formed a connection with him, but we don’t know each other well enough for me to fully own him. I sense a unique aura with this staff and in order to create a stronger bond, I have decided to call him Astraeus.
Now I suppose I should get this all out before it continues to build or fester inside me….Malachi (sigh). I truly think I have been bewitched or cursed or just been very exhausted, but I am drawn to him. It is beyond my control and it is driving me mad. Don’t get me wrong, he has proven himself worthy over the last few weeks of our travels and yes, he is quite impressive, but come on! Aside from the fact that he is half-elf, he cannot by any means be clean! He treats every tavern, shop, or inn we’ve entered as if they were brothels. He’s always marked with some type of harlot’s makeup or scented perfume every time he greets us. How many notches on his bedpost does he have?! It is extremely bothersome for me to have these strange feelings, and I normally don’t preoccupy myself with such thoughts, especially since it is Malachi we’re talking about here, but there it is…. I pray he does not sense any of this! Hmmm…well, I suppose if he does, I may let him touch my hair, or if things go my way, I’ll never see him again.
I dream of the day I can return to Arvandor to see my family again.
November 13, 2010 – sacrifices must be made
My dearest Celeste,
Sister, it has been quite some time since I’ve had the opportunity to write you … and it does not help that I am writing this letter with a throbbing headache and in the presence of a snoring wizard. I’m not entirely quite sure how I ended up back in my room, but I can tell you that it has been a rough night. Because we have always been open with each other, I hope you do not judge me too harshly after I tell you about the ordeal I’ve gone through or at least parts I remember!
I sit in this hovel with its smells of fish heads and sour mash trying to remain concealed from an arrogant half-elf idiot named Malachi. I do not know if it was his hat or his incessant rambling about how he’s supposedly “the world’s greatest navigator,” but I knew he had ulterior motives and could not be completely trusted. I had to somehow get into his good graces in order to find out what this nitwit was really doing on our ship. Oh by the way sister, we had to charter a ship from a Dwarven crew! It’s a bloody circus…hahaha…make sure you tell father this! I know he would appreciate the humor in that. Anyways, I’m getting sidetracked here. With a few choice words, I was able to slither my way into Malachi’s cabin and convince him that I was completely and utterly attracted to him (bleccckkk). Could you imagine ME with a half-elf?! Don’t get me wrong, I like them just fine, but I cannot imagine breeding with anyone else but our people. Well, this is the part I have to say I am most ashamed of; I was so close to gaining the information I so sorely needed, I had to push the envelope a little further. I actually let him caress my unadulterated skin and flawless hair with his tainted hands. You know how much I LOVE to be touched (sarcasm will help me survive this madness). Thank Corellon I drank so much “special” brandy; I couldn’t feel his grimy paws. How did I escape his grasp, you might ask? Well, dear sister, fey step of course. It’s got to be good for something. I cannot go into details about what I discovered since I am not sure if my letters are being intercepted by Ragesian agents, so I apologize for the vagueness, but at least I can fill you in on the juicy details of my life thus far.
Oh Celeste, how I miss all of you and just being home. I know why I’m here and am very happy and honored to serve Shialis, but I miss mother’s meals and Syrius’ Elven wine. It’s been so long since I have seen anything that feels like home to me that I believe I am starting to feel disconnected from it all. I suppose that could be a good thing since I never know what tomorrow will bring, if I do see a tomorrow. Nevertheless, I am in good spirits and in good company. My comrades are brave and loyal to one another (for the most part…there seems to be something going on with Snow and Baffin, but let’s not go there). They are good-hearted people and we all seem to serve the same purpose. On that note, I end this letter. I am feeling rather dehydrated, since it appears I may have vomited somewhere or on someone. That part is rather fuzzy. Please give my love to everyone and I promise to write very soon.
All my love,
September 18, 2010 – dreams will lead the way
“One dead body, two dead body, three dead body, four…” Completely aware of the pools of blood which surrounded her, Ophelia carefully tip-toed over each slain Ragesian soldier as if she were walking on hot coals.
“Would you know how to remove these disgusting stains off my robe?” She pointed to certain spots, careful not to touch them. Baffin gave her an absent look and grabbed what appeared to be a snot rag from his cloak. Ophelia’s gag reflex was activated and she quickly backed away from his home-made Petri dish.
She signed up for second watch with him, who hardly seemed to notice she was there, as he began rummaging through the bodies for remnants of their dignity. This appeased her because she was not opposed to a little looting. In a distance she noticed a tent, and remembered the mage who brought Nameless back to life just to torture him. “Hmmm, a sadist. I can respect that,” Ophelia thought to herself as she stripped the robes off of his limp body.
As she dusted off her new robe she noticed something curious next to the mage’s hand. “Well, well, what do we have here? Me thinks this to be a magical staff.” She smirked at her newly acquired treasures, and decided to walk back towards camp to find Baffin.
She noticed Baffin staring up at a tree and realized he was speaking with Nameless, who didn’t seem very enthusiastic about their conversation. Ophelia decided that this was none of her business and was just about to turn around to throw more wood into the fire when, “THUMP…THUG.” Baffin was laying on the ground, unconscious. She casually walked over to him where Nameless joined her and laughed at Baffin’s demise.
“What happened?” Baffin seemed a little shook up, as he lay there with an imprint of a gold bar on his forehead. Ophelia giggled and walked away, waking up the next group for the final watch.
“So, Vennmann, have you figured out what’s inside these flasks?” Ophelia approached him with intense inquisitiveness. Colors of red, green, and orange swirled brightly in their individual bottles.
“It seems to be some kind of alcohol,” Vennmann mentioned, raising the green container up to eye level. Off to the left, Ophelia noticed Snow and Moog packing their things, and suddenly, her face lit up.
“Snow, Moog, we could use your assistance here!” She flagged them down and raised the red flask up for them to see. Their eyes widened and immediately came to their aid. Handing each of them a bottle, Ophelia calmly took out a small notebook and said, “Moog, Vennmann thinks this is some sort of alcoholic beverage…try it.” Moog shrugged his shoulders and took a gulp from the green flask. In an instant, he was on his back; drool seeping out from the corners of is euphoric smile. Snow looked at her red bottle and decided to cork it, rather than follow his lead.
“Well, at least we know what the green one does,” Ophelia mumbled, picking up her pack and walked away quickly from the scene of the crime.
After much debate, the adventurers decided to travel via caravan to return the gold to the Dassen army. They first had to pass through Suthgeard, a city Ophelia was familiar with through stories. Marsh elves dwelled there and were known to be very hospitable folk. The group covered a great deal of land before deciding to set up camp in a small clearing. Krystin has been quiet lately, a little too quiet for the group’s comfort. Ophelia knew to stay away from that girl, but yet, felt a strange fascination to learn more about her, especially the shiny anklet she never took off. Apparently Snow had the same idea because she convinced Ophelia to look into the matter.
She and Vennmann took second watch, and upon agreement, Vennmann decided to take watch on top of the ridge while Ophelia stayed at camp. When he was far enough not to see Ophelia, she attempted to quietly sneak down the ridge to where Torrent and Krystin were sleeping. Unfortunately, being stealthy was not one of her strong points and soon found herself practically tumbling down the path.
“Where’s a glamer spell when you need one?” Ophelia grunted as she dusted herself off. There was nothing she hated more than filth, particularly filth that clung to you, like mud or slime or even pesky dust particles. She tried very hard to ignore how dirty she felt, especially when what she was most curious about was ten feet away.
Krystin slept soundly; her anklet playfully glistening under the moonlight, taunting Ophelia to come closer and introduce herself. Ophelia obliged and reached out to feel its golden grooves, then….darkness…shadows…murky images. A concentrated force pushed up against her, and before she knew it, she was once again ten feet away from the anklet. The only difference was that Krystin was now awake, staring at her with eyes which sent shivers down her very core. “I, I, I…uhh, just wanted to make sure you were both alright. Good night.” Ophelia scampered back up the ridge, and finished the rest of her watch, trying to forget what occurred.
The party continued to travel towards the marsh swamp just outside Suthgeard. Ophelia made sure her feet was firmly inside the caravan just in case mud from the wheels decided to spitefully splash onto her. An elf with greenish complexion greeted them warmly and offered to ferry the group across to meet with the Matriarch. Baffin was not very comfortable with the idea of separating the caravan from the group, but was finally convinced that these elves had no ill intentions.
Upon entering the city, the adventurers noticed what appeared to be a funeral procession. A long line of elves walked passed them, carrying a child-sized casket towards the same direction the group was heading. The boats docked in front of a tower in the middle of the city, and the party waited for an audience with the Matriarch. During this time, the funeral procession stopped and surrounded an altar where the casket was carefully placed upon it. A fire was lit and when the ritual was over, everyone gathered quietly walked away, ignoring the visitors.
The Matriarch enthusiastically greeted the newcomers and welcomed them to the city. After discussing some of the city’s history and culture, it was recommended that the weary travelers retire for the night at a local inn. Vennmann decided to accompany a young stable boy and insisted that he drive the horses towards the inn. Ophelia felt comfortable here among her people, well somewhat. She missed her home, her friends, and the food. She shook the comfortable thoughts out of her head and focused on the present.
The inn was well lit and lively. Moog and Snow quickly approached the bar, while Vennmann decided to retire early to work on his alchemy. Nameless and Baffin decided to keep an eye on the caravan, trusting no one. Ophelia was feeling social and decided to befriend a male and female Marsh elf sitting at one of the tables. “Greetings, I am Ophelia. You have a fine city and it’s a pleasure to be here. “After a friendly reciprocation, she asked, “So, what is there to do around here?”
“Funny you should ask! We’re about to start our singing contest. Anyone can join, and if you win, you wrestle a crocodile!” The couple was giddy with excitement. Ophelia’s eyes lit up and began looking for Nameless.
“I have the perfect guy for the job!” She motioned for Nameless to join her, who was now in the tavern. Once he took his seat with the elves, they reiterated what they told Ophelia. Searching for more victims, she spotted Moog, Snow, and Baffin at the bar and explained the events that were about to take place.
An unusually large female Marsh elf was up first. “I wonder what sounds are gonna come out of those pipes?” Ophelia restrained herself from shuddering. To her surprise, an angelic voice filled the room with emotion and awe as Moog and Ophelia subtly wiped tears from the corners of their eyes. Round after round, other elves took their turns showcasing their talents – then, Nameless was up. The crowd went wild after it was announced that he was about to belt out “Freebird”. After 10 minutes of rocking out combined with a guitar solo by Baffin, Ophelia wasn’t sure how anyone could top that. She almost forgot that Moog also signed up for a chance to wrestle a croc. He calmly stepped in front of the crowd and began singing “Don’t Stop Believin” in Dwarvish. That was pretty much the icing on the cake because Moog ended up annihilating the competition and the croc.
The next morning, Ophelia sat with the rest of the group for breakfast. Appearing perturbed, Baffin began explaining how he had a dream of a lantern bearer instructing him to find a particular building in town. It seemed dire to complete this task as soon as possible but of course, this brought on some disagreement over which should take precedence – returning the gold or finding this building. Krystin tugged on Torrent’s clothing and quietly mentioned that the dream was very important. It did not take long for everyone to agree that Baffin’s dream would take priority.
On their way there, Ophelia decided to visit a magic shop to inquire about her curious robe and short staff. The shopkeeper was surprised Ophelia had these items in her possession, for their origins were traced to the marsh swamps. He could not tell her anything about the staff, but he seemed fairly knowledgeable about her robe.
“I do not know what other powers this robe may have, but I believe I do know one thing.” The shopkeeper grabbed a container with muck in it and splashed it onto the robe.
“What are you doing?!” Ophelia’s arms flailing in the air.
Within a few seconds, the liquid sloughed off the robe as if it had never happened. “It’s a robe of Fastidiousness,” he calmly said. Ophelia giggled like a little school girl, grabbed it from him and immediately put it back on. “Now I’ll always be clean!”
Upon reaching their destination, Ophelia decided to go with Nameless and Baffin around the back of the building, where they came upon a child-sized dirt mound. Nameless eagerly pawed through it, hoping to find treasures, which he did, among other things. A child of about 10-11 years lay in the ground with a dagger imbedded into his chest. Three coins were placed vertically down his torso. Ophelia looked away from the boy for not more than a second when she noticed that the coins had disappeared.
“Put those back! We don’t know what could happen!” Ophelia shrieked at Nameless, who just stared at her. Clearly, she didn’t know Nameless or Baffin very well. Ophelia quickly ran to the others and explained what she found. Based on the appearance of the boy’s skin, it looked like he’s been in that spot for a good 20 – 25 years.
It was now nightfall and the travelers needed to stop to set up camp. After a fairly uneventful night, Snow awoke the rest of the group to tell them that she too had a dream about the lantern bearer, but this time, he was pointing to a house in another part of town. Although quite uneasy about these strange dreams, the group decided to visit the house in Snow’s dream. Instead of raising suspicion by asking the locals too many questions, Baffin decided to break into the home, which appeared abandoned. Ophelia found it curious that Baffin the Bard was so skilled in thievery, though she secretly thought it was quite impressive.
Inside, dust had settled all over everything, so Ophelia quickly went towards the backyard with Nameless, who found another dirt mound. Just as before, the body of a child was found with coins and a dagger placed in the same manner as the one they discovered behind the building. In order to keep it consistent, Nameless quietly removed the coins from the body and headed out of the house with the others. It was time to pay a visit to the Matriarch.
It was too late to request an audience with the Matriarch so the party decided to go back to the inn and call it a night. It had been a strange few days and everyone felt fatigued from travel. The next morning, Ophelia sat down for breakfast and told them that she had a dream about the lantern bearer.
“He was pointing at a tall tower that seemed in perfect alignment with the moon. The presence of this moon seems very important. I could not see anything else.”
August 21, 2010
“Remaining incognito was much easier than I thought,” Ophelia mumbled to herself. Under the command of Shialis, Ophelia swore to uphold her promise of ensuring safe delivery of the magically sealed case. In the past, she has attempted to remain relatively neutral as far Shahalesti politics go, but it was different now. The Ragesian army is a dire threat, not only to the Eladrin empire, but seemingly, to the rest of the world.
As stealthily as she possibly could manage, she trudged alongside(although unseen) the so called, “Five Traitors,” through the Fire Forest and into Dassen. For being a sorceror, she somehow managed to trail them unobserved and not too badly injured. What seemed to agitate her more than cuts and bruises, was the mere fact that her newly purchased robes were slightly singed and discolored at the hem. Feeling famished and filthy, Ophelia knew she had to find a quiet place to meditate, regain her thoughts, and focus on the mission at hand. Approximately 20 paces ahead were the five travelers, who seemed to make friends along the way. A strange little girl named Krystin, her ill-fallen father Hayden, and a Gate Pass resistance cleric who called herself, Torrent, also accompanied them to the inn. There was something very ominous about the child; rather disturbing actually. This gaze on the girl was interrupted by a familiar face, Sergeant Trajan, who appeared nervous and quite cautious about the newcomers. “Why do I have a feeling I may not remain hidden for very long?” Ophelia sighed.
The local pub was just like any other Ophelia had seen during her travels; filled with men who hoped to drown their memories and sorrows with a stiff ale, while replacing them with idealistic realities and lost dreams.
Ophelia watched as Moog and Snow quickly headed to the bar for some much needed ale(s), while Baffin eyed the available delicacies the tavern had to offer. She noticed that Vennman seemed to share her strange fascination with the child, and Nameless, well, she really did not know what to make of him.
Further inspection of the pub revealed a few wanted posters tacked on the tavern walls. Ophelia did not want to appear too interested as to blow her cover, but she did make out two faces: Vennman and Baffin (or an attempt of Baffin). This seemed to unnerve the group, but there was something else which bothered them. She couldn’t quite make out what they were doing to the poster but they speedily left the tavern to grab supplies.
“I’m doing this for Shahalesti. I’m doing this for Shialis. I’m doing this for Shahalesti,” Ophelia repeated this over and over to find motivation. As she was making her way back to the tavern, Dassen military seemed to overwhelm the area with their presence. “This can’t be good. Damn them! Why can’t they just blend in like everyone else and avoid causing a scene?! It’s the ale…too much ale.” Ophelia felt frustrated and exhausted. She scurried towards the pub just in time to catch what appeared to be a disagreement between the travelers and her old friend, Captain Adolphus.
“I need you to hand over the case!” he demanded. Snow stood her ground and responded with an icy stare of contempt for the Captain. “The case stays with me,” she calmly said. Captain Adolphus gave his men a quick glance and before the situation escalated, Ophelia interjected. “Captain Adolphus, long time no see!” His eyes widened with surprise and relief at Ophelia’s sight. She previously worked with him on several missions in the past. The fact that she vehemently vouched for these unknown travelers impressed him. It took just a few minutes to convince the Captain that these five adventurers were of no threat to Dassen’s safety.
Once the tension settled, Ophelia introduced herself and explained why she had been following them since Gate Pass. “Shialis requested that I ensure the case’s safe travel to the Lyceum, and now, here I am. I know your journey here has not been easy, to say the least, so I am willing to offer my services to your party. Whatdya say, will you let me join you?”
Everyone seemed to be on board except for Nameless, who assumed Ophelia was an undercover drow. “I’ll win your favor in time,” Ophelia smiled as Nameless sneered at her.
The adventurers decided to travel to the local inn where they found the girl, Krystin, sobbing uncontrollably. Next to her, lying on the floor was her father, Hayden, who appeared ashen gray and petrified. A strange magical energy eerily surrounded him and Ophelia wondered if anyone else aside from Baffin had noticed. Krystin felt very close to Snow and physically clung on to her leg. The inn keep offered to have the body removed and buried by some of the town guards, in which the travelers gladly obliged.
With Krystin’s unpredictable powers growing, Vennman thought it was time to present her with a 3rd level spell book to assist in controlling her gift. In the meantime, the rest of the group assigned shifts throughout the night in order to watch the child, since strange things were known to happen when she slept. The first two shifts were uneventful, so Ophelia and Vennman didn’t expect anything different, but they were mistaken. Moog was missing! Torrent and Krystin were both there, but it appeared that someone or something just lifted Moog from his slumber and took him. Vennman alerted the others and everyone just assumed Moog decided to go back to the pub.
As morning came, Moog suddenly came walking up to the group as if he never left. He did appear slightly different from last night…a bit older and worn. When asked how he was, his answers were short and he refused to talk about it any further. If his appearance wasn’t so physically threatening, Ophelia would have asked him to give her details, but instead, she kept her thoughts to herself.
The six adventurers traveled a great distance throughout the course of the day, attempting to cover as much ground as possible in order to reach the Lyceum. Nightfall came quickly and the temperature began to steadily drop. They came upon a road surrounded by hills and trees which slightly obscured their view. Nameless sensed something which unnerved him and decided to leave ground and head for the hills. He was right…approximately 30 paces ahead was a man clothed in robes not appropriate for the current weather. He sat cross-legged in the middle of the road and was very still. Baffin greeted him with a friendly tone but it appears the party may have stepped onto private property. Ophelia attempted to scan the area for danger but her perception was not in tune that night. Just as her gaze returned upon the stranger, Baffin was suddenly off his steed and was now standing firmly next to it. Ophelia gasped in awe and admiration at the amount of magic it took to manifest such power.
The man agreed to let us cross his hills if we agreed to play his game. The travelers wearily accepted since they did not have much choice in the matter. His idea of entertainment consisted of answering riddles, which Ophelia despised, mostly because she was so bad at them. If all were answered correctly, they would be allowed to pass, but if any of the riddles were answered incorrectly, there would be consequences, but he refused to say what those were. Ophelia personally thought it would be best to get them all right. It was fortunate that the others were fairly good at answering his riddles, and true to his word, he allowed the party to cross over his hills.
Feeling high-spirited and confident, the group continued forward with optimism, feeling the Lyceum closer than ever; that is, until they were met with an unfriendly band of wraiths.
TO BE CONTINUED…