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The Lidu Diaries (a player's prospective of the STAP)


Campaign Journals

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Taldor

I also enjoyed the description of the spell research and the efforts Tristan made to sound normal to the woman from the administration department. :)

Taldor

Moonbeam wrote:
I also enjoyed the description of the spell research and the efforts Tristan made to sound normal to the woman from the administration department. :)

Thanks Moonbeam! I've started reading your latest journal as well, but I haven't played very far into the crimson throne so much of the adventure remains a mystery for me.


I’d chosen white for the ceremony. Lavinia clearly didn’t like my choice, it made me look young and innocent, but I’d chosen the colour for a reason. I knew the ceremony by heart, I felt as though part of me even knew the ritual behind the ceremony as well, but blood sacrifices hadn’t been called for in thousands of years. I’d also had two sashes made for the occasion to hold the dagger (or daggers) of office if and when they were awarded to me. I put the pure white one on first and packed the other away for later.

I looked at myself in the mirror. Kale’s brother had done a remarkable job. The loose blouse and pantaloons, the traditional suloise garb, fit me perfectly. And while my cloths looked quite plain from a distance there had been quite a bit of fine needle work that had gone into the costume when you got close. Clearly he didn’t have his brother’s impediments, I mean Kale was talented enough when he swung a sword, but when it came to sewing or needlework the man was all thumbs. Silverthumb indeed.

Lavinia filled out her dress nicely, she wore blue as usual, but with the recent victories in Farshore and with the recovery of her family fortunes, she was now able to wear far more jewellery then she had in the past. She looked opulent. I thought she looked better without, it allowed her inner strength to shine through, but here she’d dressed to impress. Tonight she’d be in the presence of the Dawn Counsel. Once again I felt like a tramp or a runny nosed child standing next to her, but this time at least I had the confidence knowing that the woman before me was somehow in love with the scamp before her, and that somehow made me special.

“How lovely you look Lavinia Vanderboren,” I said.

“How quaint you look Tristan Lidu,” she said, “You should have worn your grey silk.”

“I shall in the future Lady Vanderboren,” I said with a full curtsy, “But tonight isn’t about me. Tonight is about honour and tradition. I shall be humble before the Witchwardens, I will bow before the Dawn Counsel, and I shall give myself over to the Ruby Sorcerer. Tomorrow I will emerge from the cathedral as myself again, and I shall wear what I like, but tonight . . . tonight Lady Vanderboren I give myself to my city and to my god.”

Lavinia nodded and took my arm and we walked downstairs to where our friends had gathered. Despite the fear of what was to come I felt I was also looking forward to this ceremony. My graduation from the House of the Dragon had been a blur. I’d spent the previous day and night, as per Lidu tradition, fasting and praying so when the actual graduation came along I had been left with only a vague impression. This would be different. I’d still spend the night in prayer, but only afterwards, and my mind would be crisp and sharp for the ceremony.

Sadly not everyone could come. Only members of the Dawn Counsel and their special guests were given special exceptions to attend, many of the counsel members had family that were members of the witchwardens after all, but the general public was turned away. Most probably weren’t even aware of this ancient ceremony existed. And the ceremony was ancient. The first witchwardens were appointed by Teraknian himself to guard the body of his Lady Sasserine. Lady Sasserine was a priestess of Wee Jas. Our traditions and customs were only naturally fuelled by the church. When Lady Sasserine was finally laid to rest beneath the Spire of Sasserine our duties expanded to protecting the entire city that bore the lady’s name.

The ban meant that only Lavinia and Fredrick could attend because of their Dawn Counsel memberships, Kale would attend as Lavinia’s guest, and Kiki would attend as Fred’s. The others came to see us off, to wish me luck, and likely to start working on the surprise party they’d planed for me tomorrow night. They’d done their best to keep it under wraps but Hop-Toy had overheard Lavinia, Churtle, and Kiki talking privately about it in Lavinia’s garden (Hop-Toy liked to hunt slugs while I worked on my diary). While I imagined that the last thing I wanted to do after being up for 24 hours was have a party, I promised myself I’d act pleased and surprised when it happened.

I teleported us to Sasserine and we parted ways at the tower. The underground ceremony wouldn’t start for another two hours or so but I needed to be in the tower well in advance. My companions weren’t members of the witchwardens and weren’t normally allowed in, and I wasn’t high enough rank to invite them, but we’d see each other soon enough beneath the city. The dawn counsel had their own entrance to the sea caves.

There was a private ceremony of course. Nothing special, the initiates that were to be raised were publicly announced, and then we were separated from the fold by an honour guard of white daggers. We were brought before Lux swore loyalty to the witchwardens and the city of Sasserine. Then we were taken to another room where we waited. And waited. There would be a lot of that. Outside I imagined that my friends would get something to eat at a local restaurant or perhaps have a drink at a local bar. The city would be starting to come alive at this time of night.

I looked at my fellow initiates, there were five of us, all human, and only one other wore a holy symbol of Wee Jas. They were all older then me of course, some were in their late twenties, but one man looked almost double my age. Most had worn their best cloths for this occasion. Our eldest initiate was clearly from the merchant’s district and he wore a fine mesh belt with a chain already hanging loose to accept his dagger. Another male initiate, with his fine woven leather belt, was clearly from the Azure district. I felt very plain in my white garb. Even my fellow Jasidin wore more ornate cloths then me, choosing a proper dress rather then traditional suloise garb. The other female initiate looked like she was dressed for a ball. Perhaps she was. There were often parties for newly minted white and black daggers throughout the city.

There wasn’t any small talk. All these people had graduated ahead of me and I didn’t really know them well enough to talk to them. I thought I knew the one other Jasidin, I’d seen her around the cathedral, and I thought I remembered her being a senior when I first arrived at the House of the Dragon. But that was a long time ago. That was ten years ago I suddenly realized. I’d vaguely known her for ten years and we’d never spoke. I wasn’t about to start talking with her now though, I didn’t want any distractions. I took the time to repeat my part of the ceremony over and over in my head. This was something I wanted absolutely correct.

Eventually Annah arrived. Her role in the ceremony was purely symbolic these days, nobody would be required to kneel and kiss her ring for example, but she would still be on the stage with us. Annah would act as a proxy for the Lady Sasserine. Afterwards she would also lead those who were willing back to the cathedral for the night of prayers. Now that these things were optional I’ve heard that even some of the newly raised followers of Wee Jas didn’t bother to participate. I would be attending, of course, but I wondered if my fellow Jasidin initiate would?

“Hello young Tristan Lidu,” Annah said looking down at me, she held out her ring in front of me, “I trust you are prepared for this ceremony.”

“As best as I could be High Magnus,” I said kissing her ring. She held it just far enough away from me so that I couldn’t remain sitting and I’d need to kneel to reach it. This was no mistake. She was testing me again. There was no pretending or acting on my part, I didn’t hesitate, I had immediately dropped to my knees, and I was meek as a kitten around her. When I finally looked up at her I found her smiling.

“Rise young Lidu,” she said, “Let me see your sash.”

Annah pretended to adjust my sash but I knew what she was really doing. She ran her hand under my sash and up under my blouse to feel for that nasty needle belt. There was no danger to her, the barbs only faced one way, and under my cloths the nasty thing was practically invisible. It was designed for a private penance. Neither of us could afford the nature of my sins made public. When she felt it she nodded. She applied a small amount of pressure to watch me wince but then quickly readjusted my sash to her liking.

“You’d better sit now,” Annah said, “We have a long night ahead of us and you’ll need your strength.”

I sat back onto the bench and watched as Annah made her way along the other initiates, quickly blessing them, till she got to my fellow follower of Wee Jas. Annah held her ring out to her, but this time close enough so that my fellow initiate could kiss it from her seated position. I was a favourite of the priestess it seemed.

Annah left us to prepare for the ceremony. We sat in silence again. There was some chatter amongst our ‘guard’ of white daggers, but they talked too softly for me to hear. Still none of us felt like talking. There was a giddy sort of energy in the air. Finally, after what seemed like hours, we were stood and led down the twisty passage deep beneath the tower. Every so often the passage would open up to dark caves, and I could smell the salt air drifting in from somewhere. As we got closer to our destination I could hear parts of the ceremony echoing up from somewhere almost directly below us. Then we found ourselves in a worked stone room. The walls were ancient, ornately carved, and there was some sign of battle here and there. Our ancient enemy, the scarlet brotherhood, had tried to breach these caves once.

Again we sat in silence. I could hear the ceremony in the great cave if I strained my ears. There would be retelling of past battles, ancient glories, and music. There were great bards amongst the witchwardens after all, and the caves had an incredible acoustics to them that was rivalled only by the great opera house, and so no ceremony was complete without giving our lyricists chance to ply their trade. Finally I heard what we’d been waiting for, from somewhere far away came the call:

“Bring forth the initiates!” This call was echoed by someone closer, then by another just outside our door, and our honour guard stepped forward and seized us. Two men pulled me to my feet, and took my arms quite firmly, it was all tradition and I suppose all in good fun, but I felt the shadow of that ancient suloise ritual. This ceremony was based upon heavily upon that. I suppressed a shudder as our guard ‘escorted’ us that final leg towards the ceremony.

I was first into the ceremony hall as we were mock dragged into that great chamber. The hymn to lady Sasserine’s was played, a favourite of mine, and the witchwardens in the lower bowl stood at attention. I felt my fellow initiates behind me giving the symbolic resistance, pretending to struggle for the gathered white and black daggers as well as for the crowd of counsel members in the balcony high above us. I sensed disappointment in my own two white daggers that I wasn’t doing the same. Everyone liked a little bit of fun, but I had long decided that if this were indeed a true blood sacrifice, that I’d have gone willing to my fate, and so I saw no reason pretending to fight knowing that I wasn’t. I would have given my life willingly to Wee Jas.

My eyes scanned the crowd, I found Lavinia and Kiki almost immediately, they had found seats close to the edge and Kiki stood on her seat waving at me. I wished for a moment that I could wave back. On the other side I spotted my family dressed in our family colours. Great uncle Worrin was flanked by his wife and last living brother. Worrin’s sons, his daughter, and many of his nieces, nephews and grandchildren sat around him as well. I was glad to see him but I knew I’d have another confrontation with him before the night was out. My heart jumped for joy when I spotted my sisters. They weren’t Dawn Counsel members and someone had pulled some strings to get them in, but then my heart jumped into my throat when I spotted my mother seated behind them. Her face was as blank and as unmoving as ever. Our eyes met ever so briefly and I quickly looked away.

As the hymn ended we found ourselves forced to our knees in front of the altar. The head of the Witchwardens, Lux Seoni, took on the role as priestess in this new ceremony. Annah sat far behind in the traditional high priestess chair, the great symbols of Wee Jas left little doubt for whom the chair had been designed for, but the High Magnus no longer took part. The few black daggers that had attended flanked the stage. The raising of an initiate was tower business and they stood as the tower’s commanders and ruling elite.

“Who is this that comes before me?!” Lux called out to us, her powerful voice echoing from every corner.

“Your humble servants and followers oh great mistress,” my fellow initiates and I said in unison.

“And what is it that you want?!” Lux demanded.

“That we be allowed to serve,” we said in unison again, “That you entrust us to do whatever you wish of us for the tower and for the city of Sasserine.”

“And what do you have to offer?!” Lux demanded again.

“All we have ever had to offer,” We all said, “Our life and our blood, which is given freely, and of our own volition.”

“And this is all that can be asked of any of us,” Lux said looking to her gathered witchwardens, “I see before me five initiates, some fresh faced, some battle tested, but all have proven themselves to this tower and to our great city. My fellow witchwardens, you have put forward these initiates forward for advancement, is there anyone here today that objects to any of these choices? Does anyone see fault with me making any one of these five full members of our order?”

The silence that followed was glorious.

“Very well,” Lux finally said, “Your silence shows your consent.”

Lux stepped behind the altar and pulled back a cloth to reveal five white hilted daggers. Each held the seal of the witchwardens carved into the butt of the handle. They were our badges of office. I was awash with emotions. Getting my white dagger was huge. Most wouldn’t get them until they’d served the tower for a decade or more, for many it would be a crowning achievement on their careers, but I didn’t see a black dagger on that alter anywhere, and part of me couldn’t help but feel disappointed. Perhaps Lux rightfully felt that I was achieving too much too soon.

Lux began awarding daggers at the opposite end. This was a small mercy. I began rehearsing my words and steeling myself for what was to come. I gripped my hands together in prayer so tightly that my fingers went white.

Lux demanded the oath from each of us before she would allow us to stand and take our dagger. I watched out of the corner of my eye as the initiate from the merchant’s district stood and took his dagger. He immediately fastened it too his belt. The initiate in the fancy dress actually held her dagger aloft and turned to the crowd. There were cheers from somewhere. I did my best to ignore this bastardization of this ancient ceremony. Both Lux and Annah also hid their distain rather well I thought. Then came my fellow Jasidin turn, I watched carefully, here was a slight deviation in the ceremony, or rather a throwback to when it was purely a Jasidin ceremony. Rather then offer a sheathed dagger, Lux drew the dagger, and pointed it blade first to the initiate. The woman carefully extended her hand and pricked her thumb on the blade.

‘Blood,’ I thought, ‘it was life, it was death.’ The ceremony demanded blood. I suddenly wondered if Lavinia knew that? I hadn’t thought to tell her. I wouldn’t risk my grey silk dress with blood but with this white uniform, made especially for this ceremony, every drop of my blood would be seen clear as day even from the back of the balcony. I wouldn’t shy away from this, my goddess demanded it, and I planned to revel in the macabre nature of the ceremony. I turned my head to focus on the ground in front of me. I recited the words over and over again in my head. Then I saw Lux’s hard leather boots in front of me.

“What is your name Initiate?” Lux asked.

“Tristan Lidu,” I said as loudly as I dared, “Eldest daughter of Walkeen Lidu and Mab Maros, great grand niece of Worrin Lidu.”

“Do you, Tristan Lidu, pledge allegiance to Sasserine and the witchwardens?”

“I forever pledge allegiance to Sasserine and the witchwardens.”

“Do you swear to uphold the law and defend Sasserine from her enemies, be they at home or abroad?”

“I do swear to uphold the law and defend Sasserine and her colonies from her enemies, be they at home or abroad.”

“Would you, Tristan Lidu, give your life, or spill your blood, if called, for the city of Sasserine?”

Here Lux drew the dagger and held the blade out to me.

“Yes,” I said as reached for the blade with my right hand. I placed the fleshy part of my hand just below my fingers on the blade next to the hilt; then, to the collective gasps from the audience, I ran my hand across the razor sharp blade till I reached the tip. Then I looked up to meet Lux Seoni’s eyes, and I ran my hand back up to the hilt and gripped the blade as tightly as I could.

“Gladly,” I called.

Lux met my eyes. The pain was terrible, I did have a high pain threshold, but this was something different. I forced the pain from my mind. I felt the blood well up between my fingers. I heard it drip and splatter onto the floor. I felt the heat as it flowed down my arm. Finally Lux nodded and I released the blade.

“Rise Tristan Lidu,” she said, and I quickly did as I was told. Lux wiped my blade clean on my white sash and returned the white dagger to its sheath before finally tucking it into my sash, “Newly appointed white dagger of Witchwarden Tower.”

There was a thunderous round of applause for all the newly appointed white daggers and our former guards moved forward to accept us as equals and members of their order. I embraced them with my left hand as I pressed my right against my heart as I looked to Annah. She nodded her approval. Then I gripped my blouse as it now would act as a crude bandage until I could get a proper one. I’d get no healing for my wounds till the morning, the pain would be part of my reflection and prayer, but I’d completed the ritual knowing this.

The white daggers began to usher us towards the lower bowl were we would sit with our fellow witchwarderns for the final hymn and the singing of the city’s anthem. I watched as my fellow white and black daggers climbed off the stage, part of me wanted to joint that fold, to finally feel a part of something larger then myself, but as my side of the stage finally approached the stair Lux stopped me:

“Hold a moment Tristan,” she said. My confused guards and remaining black daggers climbed down the stair leaving just me, Lux, and Annah alone on the stage. It suddenly occurred to me that we now represented the maid, the mother, and the crone.

Lux seemed to wait till everyone was aware that there was something more going on before she gave the cloth another little fold. There, at the back of the altar, lay a single black dagger. It was an amazing image. I felt dizzy. It was a contrast of black on white; much like red on white. I felt the room go silent.

“As commander of the Witchwardens,” Lux said to a hushed crowd, “I may choose who best exemplifies and upholds our ideals. Promotion is always earned and usually those advancements are paid with by blood. More then one of our order has had their black dagger awarded to them at their funeral. Tristan Lidu, I have followed your career and I deem you ready for advancement. Many have heard of your achievements but allow me to briefly regal the audience: You uncovered the murderous plotting of the Lotus Dragons, disrupted the smuggling operations at Krakken Cove, defeated bullywugs invaders in our city and rescued a member of the Dawn Counsel in the process, you reported the destruction of Fort Greenrock, made allies of the native Oman and Phanaton people, and you faced and helped defeat one of Sasserine’s greatest foes: the Crimson Fleet. You have repeatedly shared your knowledge and findings with the tower. You have gifted this institution with your spells and magical research. You have increased our armoury with magical items from your own personal stockpile. Some would say you’re too young to wear this dagger, too inexperienced, that you’re too rash, too bold at times, but I say if we can overlook your accomplishments, and pass you over till you fit our expectations of what a black dagger should be, how could we dare hope that anyone fallowing in your wake could dare to be so bold? If we can’t promote someone so young and accomplished because she’s so young and accomplished then who among us truly deserves this black dagger?”

Lux Seoni looked to the crowd, almost daring them to speak, and the people seemed to stare back in shock. There was near silence.

“Tristan Lidu,” Lux Seoni shouted, “Come forth and kneel before me!”

Lux pointed to the centre of the stage and I follow her commands, almost cracking my knees as I dropped hard on the ground. Lux picked up the dagger and held it high so everyone could see. Then she drew the blade before approaching.

“Tristan Lidu,” Lux said, “You have proved your strength and loyalty to the city of Sasserine time and time again over the course of your young career. You have done what we expect of our white daggers and more. You have gone above and beyond the call of duty. I offer to you a black dagger, our highest honour, and our most respected position. Should you accept you will take on a role of leadership in the tower, initiates and white daggers alike will look to you for guidance, and their will be no anonymity, no retirement, you will forever be marked by the tower and shoulder it’s responsibilities. Do you accept this dagger?”

Lux then held the blade out to me. My right hand hurt something fierce. I didn’t think I’d be able to take the blade with that hand again. I knew I wasn’t the first black dagger to have been raised from an initiate in one night, but I was certainly the first since the mad Teraknian and the Sea Princes rule. I’d known about the blood ritual, and cutting one’s sword hand to make an oath, but I wasn’t sure about the procedure for making two such oaths. I’d tried to research this fact in the witchwarden library on the off chance that I was given the honour, but with limited access (due to my initiate status), and with the volume I sought missing at the time I was allowed entrance to the library, I was unable to find an answer.

“I humbly ask that Wee Jas give me strength and guidance as I set out on this momentous task,” I said looking at the blade, “that she temper me in her holy flame, that she lends me the strength of my elders and ancestors to do what is right, and that she not take me in death until my task is done. Praise be to the stern lady for giving me adversity to test my sprit, to prove my worth, and to show me strong enough to walk her path. Blessings be on the Ruby Sorcerer, for giving me this task, it is through this trial that I shall prove my love to her. Peace and love to the Witch Goddess, may she give me wisdom and might to walk this path, and may she use me, her most humble servant, to strike down her enemies with her righteous holy fire! And should I die, may Death’s Consort take me quietly and gently in my sleep, or suddenly in battle with the taste of my enemies in my mouth, and I ask that she always take me before I feel the shame of failure.”

I recited the ancient sacred prayer verbatim, or at least I thought I had, but when I looked up at Lux she had a curious look in her eye. I glanced over at Annah to find she was sitting up straight, looking straight at me. It slowly dawned on me that I hadn’t spoken the prayer in common at all, but rather in ancient Suloise. I wondered if I’d blundered. I knew the translation had been perfect but I hadn’t practiced speaking the original text at all.

“I humbly accept,” I said, instinctively grabbing the blade with my left hand. The pain seemed if anything far worse this time. I was glad for the collective gasp from the audience as I ran my hand down the blade as it covered my sob of pain. By the time my hand made that gruesome trip down the blade and back again it was shaking so badly that I could scarcely grip the blade.

“If you you’ll have me,” I managed to finish. My voice cracked and I was amazed that I didn’t punctuate my sentence with tears. Again my eyes met Lux’s eyes and we stared for a while. The blood was flowing from my left hand much faster then it had from my right. I couldn’t close my hand tight enough because of the pain, and blood was dripping everywhere.

Finally Lux nodded, “Rise Tristan Lidu,” she said, “Black dagger of witchwardens.”

I stood and again Lux cleaned off my dagger on my sash, returned the blade its sheath, and tucked the dagger into my sash. Behind me there was light applause, people didn’t know what they were seeing and they weren’t entirely sure if they approved, but then I heard noise from Lavinia’s side of the balcony:

“Yeah Tristan!” Kiki shouted, “Wooo! Swords of Sasserine!”

There was also some whistling and loud clapping coming from that section as well. Then I heard my sisters cheering from there section:

“Yay Tristan,” Zabrina was shouting, “We love you!”

“You’re the best Tristan,” Yadda called, “The best!”

Then, for some reason, the applause seemed to grow louder and stronger. It was like rolling thunder, distant at first, but suddenly it was right on top of you rattling your teeth. Lux grabbed my shoulders and spun me around to face the crowd, and this only seemed to make them cheer louder. People were standing I realized. I quickly gripped the other side of my blouse with my now very bloody left hand and I stood before the audience arms crossed, covered with my own blood. I bowed to them. They seemed to love it.

I used my meta magic to utter a stilled Prestidigitation spell. I’d thought to do this during my long trip back to the surface but this seemed as opportune time as any. I used the magic to force the blood out of the soft fibres of the blouse and along the hidden silken threads that Kale’s brother had so diligently sewn into my garb. Slowly the crowd began to silence as blood coloured runes and flaming skulls of Wee Jas began to appear on my arms and legs. My family crest was on my back. I quickly looked down at my work and was slightly disappointed to discover the colour wasn’t uniform, dark red near my hands, but only slightly pink towards the edge of the fabric. Still the effect would leave an impression.

I was just glad my treacherous eyes didn’t start leaking again.

“Take your seat with your fellow black daggers,” Lux said into my ear, and I stepped off the stage to join my new colleges. I was seated with the black daggers. I felt very much out of place. The youngest of their number was likely older then my mother and I could almost feel their hate and jealousy radiating towards me. Thankfully space was made at the front for me and I wouldn’t have to shuffle into their group looking for a seat.

Lux then invited the minstrels back to the stage and we sung a final hymn, and then our anthem. I was beginning to feel a bit dizzy and a thought suddenly occurred to me that with my magic moving the blood along the fibres of my blouse I might not be allowing the blood to clot. Thankfully with my arms elevated I wasn’t loosing much blood at this point but as I quickly glanced down at my blouse my fears were realized as the colour had grown far deeper and richer.

The ceremony had ended though and Annah waited for me in that anti room me and my fellow initiates had waited in earlier. The new Jasidin white dagger already had her thumb bandaged when I stepped into the room and Annah, sensing I was about to faint, quickly ushered me over to one of the benches before working on my hands. I was surprised to have the High Magnus tend to the wounds herself but feeling as dizzy as I was I didn’t dare comment.

“What a mess,” Annah said, “I don’t think you’ve gone as deep as the tendons, but after tonight’s vigil I don’t doubt you’ll be left with some scars.”

“I’ve earned plenty of scars in her service,” I said, “two more won’t matter.”

Annah nodded and began washing my wounds. I turned away, despite my earlier bravado, the pain and the sight of the blood made me dizzy. I didn’t dare look at the lesions. A thought suddenly occurred to me as a stared off into space, I’d instinctively said “her service” but at that moment I couldn’t figure out if I’d meant Lavinia or Wee Jas. I wondered if they’d become so similar in my mind.

After my wounds were bandaged I took out the portable hole from out of my sash. My hands hurt but I used my thumbs to manipulate the thing and scooped out my second sash with my stiff unmoving hands. The second sash was red, not quite the colour of drying blood, but a sharp contrast against the white and reddish brown of my blouse to be sure. I put my new daggers on the bench as I tried to untie my blood stained white sash, but I found my hands were numb with pain, and it hurt to do almost anything with then. The newly raised white dagger graciously offered to help. Her name was Anan. Painful uncooperative hands were not something that I hadn’t factored into my planning.

The newly minted white daggers and I were then obligated to visit Castle Teraknian and the dawn counsel. It was one last show of submission before we were free to get back to the business of protecting the city. Traditionally this was supposed to be voluntary, but with the religious significance of the ceremony being devalued, not showing to pledge your allegiance to the city would be scandalous.

By the time we made our way back to the surface the water was alight was dozens of boats, the docks didn’t have a particularly large crowd on them despite the number that were traveling to the castle, and I suspected that the wait would have been minimal, but Annah had her own boat that was already waiting for us. I hadn’t been in the great ballroom of Castle Teraknian since we’d received our spirals here all those months ago, back then nobody knew us, but now people seemed to recognise us. When we stepped off the docks and through the main entrance I could see Kale, Kiki and Fred were all talking with people. Nobles were rubbing shoulders with merchants and other upstanding citizens, all trying to get a word in with the heroes of Farshore. I wanted to join them, to share with them my thoughts, but I had business inside. Then I’d need to go to the cathedral, hopefully they’d find the time to visit me, but I wouldn’t be able to make time for them tonight.

Inside the five of us gathered while the counsel assembled. The others four, who had seemed indifferent before, now either saw me with interest or distain. Anan and the man from the merchant’s district (his name was Paul) and I politely chatted. The lady in the gown was curious about the spell I’d used to shape the blood but when I tried to be enigmatic she and the fisherman decided to ignore me. Thankfully we didn’t wait long. We were summoned into the ballroom were the district heads all stood on the dais while lesser members gathered on the floor around the platform. The dais was big enough to hold all seven of the counsel, though the seven almost never assembled these days, but I was surprised to see five were in attendance tonight. There must have been another function. There was the scheming Neldrak Lorechester of the Champions District, the wealthy Kalmander Taskerhill of the Cudgel District, the beautiful Anwyn Arabani from the Merchant District, the elven lord Aniphastus Knowlern from the Sunrise District, and Great uncle Worrin from my Noble’s District. The four began to take a knee but I prostrated myself before the counsel.

“You man rise witchwardens,” Taskerhill said, speaking for the counsel, “and approach the dais, we would have words with you.”

Standing took a little extra effort. I couldn’t push with my hands and my waste had that nasty needle belt so it hurt to bend. I followed the others. I saw Lavinia near the back. She was standing with Arabani’s people, I desperately wanted to kiss her, to tell her that the display had been in my goddess’ name, to tell her that I was sorry for putting her through that, to tell her that I knew she hated seeing me hurt, but that it was necessary for the ceremony, but it would be impossible for me to reach her. Our eyes met, and then I ushered forward to meet the district heads.

All of the District heads would have words with me, usually there was a polite hello and pointless small talk, and then we’d move onto the next person in line. Great uncle Worrin didn’t say much to me, it wouldn’t do to air our dirty laundry in public, but he acknowledged that I’d preformed admirably (nothing less then he expected from a Lidu) and promised that we’d have words later at the cathedral. Next I met the elven noble Aniphastus.

“People sometimes say that I live in the past,” the elf said with a smile, “but your actions make you seem like a ghost to me. I’ve not seen someone grab the blade like that in a very long time.”

Next I met with Anwyn: “I must confess that I’m not entirely familiar with your culture Lidu, but my drow blood found something exhilarating about that ceremony. I must have sat through that ceremony dozens of times now but never have I felt anything like this before. If you’re still in town tomorrow why don’t you join me at the opera? I’d love to . . . chat.”

Kalmander Taskerhill took my arms and looked at my bandaged hands, “I wouldn’t have guessed to have looked at you, but you got balls kid, your great uncle is a bit of a limp wrist, but you got balls. If you’re ever feeling unappreciated at home, you come work for me. I could use a girl like you. I got stevedores and teamsters that would piss themselves if they saw the likes of you.”

Finally I stood before Neldrak Lorechester: “Well that was quite a display,” he said with that enigmatic smile of his.

“Was it?” I asked.

“Yes, very ghoulish, I especially liked the trick with the blood on the shirt.”

“Was is a display I mean?” I asked.

He raised an eyebrow, “Could have been,” he said, “Or perhaps you really are b%+&@+~ insane, either way you’ve launched yourself into the big leagues, and now district representatives like myself need to figure out if your friend or foe. Personally, being the cynical bastard that I am, I like to think that you’ve played up the old soloise angle to appeal to purists in the Lidu clan and throughout the city. Perhaps you’re looking to become the power behind the throne, Kord knows Worrin and Annah aren’t long for this world, and painting yourself as protector of the old ways might appeal to certain elements in the city, especially a small group in my district. What I need to figure out is how much is show and how much is real. I might be able to work with a cynic like myself, similarity I might even be able to work with the genuine article as a true Jasidin would never be a threat to me in the Champion’s district, but what has me worried is what if you’re one of these purists types that talks about returning to the old ways? There’s still too much hate and mistrust in this city to think about that. I can promise you that any attempt at returning a king or queen to the Teraknian throne will have the streets, much like those clever little threads in that top of yours, running red with blood.”

I then met various other nobles from around the dais, everyone seemed eager to meet me, but Annah was growing impatient and so I said my goodbyes so I could be spirited away. The dancing was just beginning as we left the ballroom. Elsewhere in the city there would probably be private parties for a fisherman made mystic knight, for a merchant finally recognised, and for an ambitious aristocrat climbing the hierarchal ladder, but for me and my new friend Anan there would only be quiet refection and prayer. My party would come tomorrow.

It was in the wee hours of the morning when Great uncle Worrin found me. I’d instinctively gravitated to the visage of the green lady to do my prayers, and it was only after I’d settled that I realized that Annah might be offended, but she looked at me with a quizzical look and left me to my vigil. My fellow inductee had stretched out on one of the pews to ‘rest her eyes’ and I myself was beginning to feel dullness creep into my head. The pain from my hands and the cramps in my legs were really the only things keeping me awake at that point. I was so focused in my task that I almost didn’t hear Worrin approach. He sat on a bench just to the right of the green lady and waited a moment before speaking.

“I’ve taken the opportunity of tonight’s festivities to finally speak with this young Vanderboren lady,” Great Uncle Worrin said, “And I must admit, do see the appeal. She is a remarkably well spoken and charming young lady. I’ll freely admit now that I was wrong in my earlier attempts at keeping you away from her, perhaps she is a tad brash and bold, but that’s a quirk of the young I fear. Working with her has made you a name and increased your personal stock with many in this city. She is also a very forward and right minded thinker with equally strong views about your public persona and legacy. We both care for you it seems. While you have been praying I’ve been hard at work securing allies. Anwyn, Lavinia, and I were able to come to some agreement on this news paper business of yours.”

That caused me to turn and face him, but as I opened my mouth I felt his finger on my lips reminding me that I was supposed to be in silent prayer. He placed his other hand on my head and gently turned it back towards the visage of the green lady.

“I’ve decided that I can no longer stand against you alone,” Worrin said as I resumed my silent prayers, “You still have love for me and your family I’m sure, but I’ve tarnished myself in your eyes with my meddling in your affairs. That can’t be helped. I’m too old to change my ways now. And I need to do what’s best for you even if you despise me for it. So I’m going to continue to meddling but now I’ve enlisted some help. Lavinia was quite agreeable to my concerns and we’ve both decided that it’s unseemly for you to be writing for a news paper, however I did see how you have used the medium to your advantage, but it ends now. Lavinia made an impassioned argument, not so much for herself, but more for your sake, and I have been swayed. I have agreed to allow the paper to print your accounts of the battle of Farshore, but we have all agreed that your work for the paper stops there.

“Furthermore,” Great Uncle Worrin continued, “To publicly dispel the illusion that you were actually working for the paper we have agreed you are going to take every gold piece, every silver, and every copper piece that you’ve earned from that rag and you’re going to donate it all to a worthy cause. Lavinia knew of a school for foundling girls that would likely be of interest to you. I thought it best that you double the amount from your own personal funds, you know, keeping with the spirit of charity, and Lavinia and I have agreed to top up the sum so it will be a nice round number. Something that will look good in print. You can even have your reporter friend cover the story.

“Now,” Worrin said leaning back against the wall, “in the sprit of compromise, I have given some thought towards this proposal you’ve put forward in the dawn counsel: having the press attend meetings is just simply out of the question, members of the counsel must feel free to speak their minds away from public pressures, but I was thinking that perhaps we could set aside a room in the castle for answering questions about counsel business. Also I have no objections to tightening laws around what can be printed in newspapers, separating fact form speculation, but this is going to make you quite unpopular, as this is your name on the proposal, and people still haven’t forgotten the Sea Princes or their restrictive rule, but I believe this might be in the public’s best interest. I also intend on putting forth guidelines concerning what can and cannot be shared from counsel meetings, as well as penalties and punishment for those that break our rules. I think we can both agree that this black pearl business shouldn’t have happened, and steps need to be in place so that it doesn’t happen again. Things worked out for you, it’s true, but things could have gone very differently for sure.

“Now I need to get to bed,” Great Uncle Worrin said standing, “You made me proud tonight Tristan, your grandfather would have just been beaming, we probably wouldn’t have needed a footman to light the way back to the compound if he’d been alive to have seen this. I know you’re probably upset, pray to Wee Jas to give you the strength to tolerate and forgive meddling relatives, and ask for the guidance to see things from their point of view.”

Great Uncle Worrin leaned forward and kissed me on my forehead, “This as been a good talk Tristan,” he said, “Pity we can’t do this more often.”

Silver Crusade

I just finished reading the entire journal and I must say that it is one of superb quality Guy. The shear depth of character you have been able to give to Tristan is simply amazing. I look forward to reading further installments.


Great entry. The ceremony description is very good, particularly the opposition between the old bloody suloise ritual and the watered down modern version.

The conclusion is very funny : this old coot Worrin taking advantage of Tristan's silent wake made me smile like a loony.

Taldor

Big Joe wrote:
I just finished reading the entire journal and I must say that it is one of superb quality Guy. The shear depth of character you have been able to give to Tristan is simply amazing. I look forward to reading further installments.

A new fan! Thank you for your kind words :)

I'm glad you enjoyed it and even happier that you commented. Having someone comment on your work helps authors realize that they aren't writing in a void :D

Also, I wonder, having just read the 3 year journal from start to finish, did you find the story comes together? Does everything hold up alright? I like to think I had foreshadowing and good character progression but I can't look at my writing from the eyes of another.

Taldor

Smarnil le couard wrote:
Great entry. The ceremony description is very good, particularly the opposition between the old bloody suloise ritual and the watered down modern version.

I think Tristan was hinting at human sacrifice. The Suloise were not nice people and Wee Jas is a LN god with evil tendencies. I like to think that before the rain of the colorless fire Wee Jas was far more petty and cruel. Afterwards she needed to transform into the savior of the Suloise people and at that point human sacrifice was right out. Wee Jas prefers rubies now. But once she demanded blood.

Completely my own take on her. I can't remember anything of the sort in any of the Greyhawk books I own but it seems kind of right (maybe). Tristan doesn't come right out and say human sacrifice so anyone who disagrees with my interpretation of Greyhawk lore can comforted with the idea that blood sacrifice means just that, nothing more.

Smarnil le couard wrote:
The conclusion is very funny : this old coot Worrin taking advantage of Tristan's silent wake made me smile like a loony.

I like Worrin, he's seen as a joke and a bit of a wimp by the rest of the city, but he has a scarlet brotherhood assassin living in his house, and he's her most likely target, he has a grand niece who's quickly becoming one of most powerful mages the city has ever seen and who is also clearly going insane, He rules a city that's a powder keg, still virtually on the edge of civil war, and yet he continues on. The man has guts. He's desperately trying to keep the peace in Sasserine whilst walking a tightrope of intrigue. Letting him finally get his words across to Tristan was the least I could do for him :)

Also, Worrin serves as a reminder that families, especially noble families, are a great source of plot hooks, motivation, and drama for any DM. Many players think being a noble is awesome, you're part of the ruling elite, and nobody is going to boss you around. In short they Make a Vanthis or an Avner. Tristan on the other hand is very much under family constraints at all times, she's under social constraints, and she has to worry about appearances and the public eye. It's unlikely that Tristan and Lavinia could ever get married for example, Worrin could never allow it, the public would never accept it, and most likely the church would probably condemn any such action. In many ways Tristan is under more constraints then the average freeborn. Tristan was afforded the best education however, and these were things characters like Kiki or Kale would have had to struggle for.

Silver Crusade

The character progression is fine. The grow seen in Tristan is done very well and allows you to see the depth of her personality. You do manage to put some foreshadowing in but most only relates to the next entry and no further. Granted this is just what I noticed and it could just be the various entries blurring together after having read so many of them in a row.

Taldor

Thanks for the feedback Joe :)

I'm actually impressed that people seem to get through the diary at all. I did some number crunching once and I discovered that the diary was over 100 000 words, which means it's novel length at this point.


Tristan has quite the following Guy, more than one may guess. This is good writing, keep it up!

Your / her loyal readership eagerly await the conclusion of her tale. May it not involve death by Olangru-clone ... ^__^

Grand Lodge

Oh snap! I hadn't noticed that you'd started this back up. Booyah!

Taldor

Turin the Mad wrote:

Tristan has quite the following Guy, more than one may guess. This is good writing, keep it up!

Your / her loyal readership eagerly await the conclusion of her tale. May it not involve death by Olangru-clone ... ^__^

Thanks Turin :)

I want to give this journal the proper ending it needs but I seriously doubt I'll get to imagining how the unplayed adventures would have turned out. I am hoping to do an proper conclusion to this story though.

Taldor

Dax Thura wrote:
Oh snap! I hadn't noticed that you'd started this back up. Booyah!

Welcome back Dax :)

hope you're enjoying the two new entries.


Guy Humual wrote:
Turin the Mad wrote:

Tristan has quite the following Guy, more than one may guess. This is good writing, keep it up!

Your / her loyal readership eagerly await the conclusion of her tale. May it not involve death by Olangru-clone ... ^__^

Thanks Turin :)

I want to give this journal the proper ending it needs but I seriously doubt I'll get to imagining how the unplayed adventures would have turned out. I am hoping to do an proper conclusion to this story though.

I am confident that you can do so to your satisfaction, Guy. :)

Taldor

author's notes: This is a long one, and before we start I should say that none of this was played out, and is a complete work of fiction. There are no records of Wee Jas or Suloise religious ceremonies in any of the products I own and thus everything is a complete invention for this campaign journal, but having said that, please feel free to take and borrow anything you like for your own campaigns. I especially like Tristan's little prayer to Wee Jas.

Tristan in white: Now this has obvious marriage overtones, and it was intentional as Tristan is essentially marrying herself to the tower and the city of Sasserine. She's chosen her course and is unlikely to waver from it. Another thing of note here is that usually peasants wore humble single colors while the nobles wore multi colored cloths. Tristan is dressing overly humble here. We see later that she has plans (of course she does) but her initial appearance wouldn't have been lost on the traditionalist in the crowd.

I should also note here that Lavinia seems to object to Tristan's clothing because she likely doesn't know what Tristan is playing to. Lavinia isn't suloise.

Annah: when Tristan quips "I was a favorite of the priestess it seemed", Tristan isn't being sarcastic. Wee Jas is a death goddess, a love goddess, and a goddess of magic. One of her names is The Stern Lady. Annah is harder on Tristan because hardship builds strength, a follower of Wee Jas might see death as a reward and life a trial that one must endure. Annah is testing Tristan of course. And for the time being it seems that Tristan has passed.

Tristan and the blood oath: the other Jasidin (Jasidin is a follower of Wee Jas by the way) merely nicks her thumb on the blade, but Tristan is a bit more enthusiastic. The implication is that Tristan is going all in with the ceremony. The blood oath must have been watered down over the years but Tristan is hard core . . . and a little bit bonkers at this point. She can't see to do anything subtly these days, so when it comes to drawing blood she does it the warriors way, and blood spills everywhere.

Tristan gives her oaths: I trust everyone noted Tristan's slight addition to her white dagger oath? I'm sure when the oath was originally made all those years ago there wouldn't have been any colonies for Sasserine to protect.

Tristan gets her black dagger: now there is no records of how common getting both a black and white dagger would be but for my journal I've assumed it would be fairly rare. White Daggers act as mystic knights to the city of Sasserine, they're full members within the order, but Black daggers would act as commanders. I find it unlikely that jumping from initiate (squire) to commander would be common. Players adventuring through the STAP might find it near impossible to get back to the tower for the raising ceremony (which happens every month and I assume is tied to the moons) and characters that earn enough prestige within the organization might also be advanced twice in a single ceremony.

You might also note that the black dagger wasn't given to Tristan so much as it was offered. Becoming a black dagger is a big responsibility and one that I'd assume would be fraught with danger. When a brutal occupying force like the sea princes came to Sasserine I'd assume that one of their first steps was to eliminate all the black daggers and replace them with those loyal to their own regime. Undoubtedly there were black daggers loyal to the sea princes prior to Sasserine independence. Of course seeing as it was a secular organization then followers would likely have been lawful, but I'd assume that during Sasserine independence there was a purging in the tower. Accepting a black dagger means getting tied up in tower politics. A white dagger can feign ignorance or just claim that they're doing their jobs, but if heads are to roll, it's the top brass that would be loosing a little off the top. These are the sorts of things that would be on the minds of many at the tower, the violence and blood shed happened only a dozen or so years ago, and most white daggers and black dagger candidates would have had those events fresh in their minds as they'd have likely been serving at the time.

Tristan's treacherous eyes: seems like Tristan's been crying a lot lately, emotion seems to get the best of her, but she seems thankful here that they don't start up even though she's in pain and full of gratitude.

Blood magic: Tristan uses a simple Prestidigitation spell to manipulate the blood and make it flow along the threads. I'm sure this is a reasonable use of the spell. The only problem with the Prestidigitation spell is that it had somatic components and Tristan at this point really can't use her hands. Lucky for her she has the sudden meta magic feats. I'm a bit disappointed that these haven't made it into Pathfinder yet . . . but they are a bit powerful.

Meeting the dawn counsel: I'm sure by now Tristan's fellow initiates must be getting a tad sick and tired of her. They go down to one knee and Tristan again seems to do one better. This isn't lost on one of the more cynical members of the counsel, Lorechester's reaction isn't likely to be isolated either, there's more then one noble that's now secretly wondering what game Tristan is playing at. There's sure to be questions about Lux, Worrin, and Annah as well. Tristan is now officially a big fish in Sasserine society, but now her youth and inexperience will likely be her greatest disadvantage.

Tristan and Worrin: It's nice for the old man to finally get a word in edgewise against his grand niece. I also found the scene kind of touching. Tristan's family is sort of cold and detached, and here, in his own little way, Worrin is able to show Tristan that he loves her and wants what's best for her. However the old man also makes it clear that he's set in his ways and he's not going to stop meddling in Tristan's affairs, and so it is fitting that Worrin chooses to talk to Tristan there because respect for one's elders and ancestors is one of Wee Jas' tenements.

Previews for next time: CoBI finally starts. I'm not sure when I'm going to get this one up, I'm currently working on a Wayfinder prestige class, and if this latest entry is finished for this Monday I'll likely skip next Monday.


Amella was clearly surprised to see us waiting for her at the dock. There was a small crowd with us as well, many curious to see one of the heroes of Farshore, some wanted to see the riches from this far off land, but many more were potential investors eager to view the goods and determine if they should risk their capital in this venture. Lavinia had made many claims about the quality and quantity of the goods being transported back from Farshore, and much of the stock had already been sold sight unseen, but now we had investors lined up for a potential return trip and they weren’t simply going to take a lady’s word on the colony’s value.

“Ahoy Amella!” I said waving at her, “You’re a sight for sore eyes!”

I waited with Lavinia at the end of the gangplank for Amella to join us before wrapping my former captain in a big hug and kissing her on her cheeks.

“Not that I was worried or anything,” I said as I released her.

“How did you . . .” Amella started to ask the obvious question, but she knew I could teleport, but what she probably wanted to know was how I’d known when she was going to arrive. I couldn’t tell her that literally a little birdie told me?

Instead I held up my hands and wiggled my fingers, “Magic!” I said.

Being a black dagger has it’s advantages. The small little office was nice but the real treat was having access to the tower’s personal. There were initiates and even white daggers who were egger to please. Some wanted tutoring and having some divination spells cast in exchange seemed only fair. Some wanted recognition from their superiors. I’d set up a test for a couple of my eager new white daggers, a test that involved tracking a ship. I’d taught a kobold to cast magic, teaching others about the planes or magic now seemed like an easy exchange, and fieldwork and practical experience were the best instructors in my estimation. Field work had done wonders for my ability . . . if not my sanity.

“There will be time to explain all that,” Lavinia said, taking my hands and giving me that ‘not in public’ look, “I hope you’ll join us for supper. We’ve taken the liberty of getting you a room at the . . . em, at the Strumpet, and arranged for a bath and some clean cloths. Tristan and I want to hear everything about your return trip.”

“What’s with all these people?” Amella asked.

“Some are potential investors,” Lavinia said, “They want to see what we’ve transported here, but many are curious fans of Tristan’s short lived newspaper carrier. Anxious to see one of the heroes of Farshore.”

“I’m now a patron,” I reassured Amella, in case she too was worried about my tabloid reputation, “I should show you my school for foundlings!”

“Hero of Farshore?” Amella asked, facing Lavinia but her eyes still on me, “I didn’t do anything except get the women, children, and elderly to safety. I was out of the fighting.”

“Yes,” Lavinia said with a sigh, “but she did sort wax poetic over events prior to that, and I suspect that many of the people grew fond of Tristan’s portrayal of you. We are a seafaring people after all. You and James are quite popular at the moment. There has been talk in the dawn counsel about rewarding you with a Spiral of Sasserine for your selfless and heroic acts.”

Amella blinked, clearly unsure of how to process that information. She turned from Lavinia to me and back again.

“We’re planning a return trip,” I said, “With maybe three or four ships, depending on how many investors we snag, and I think you should be admiral of that fleet.”

“Didn’t we agree,” Lavinia said with that lovely hint of anger in her voice, “That that was something we were going to talk about over dinner?”

“Yes,” I said with my favourite smile, “But we didn’t say we weren’t going to talk about it now.”

Amella put her hands on our shoulders and smiled at us, “It is good to see you two again,” she said, “Supper sounds lovely. Business sounds good. I can’t wait to get caught up. I would love to see these articles. Maybe later you can show me your school Tristan. But right now I have a ship to unload, would you two lovely ladies mind moving your pretty little posteriors away from the front of my gangplank, please?”

“See,” I said to Amella as Lavinia dragged me away, “Manners! These are the skills a merchant admiral needs.”

. . .

I sat up in bed. I’d thought that Lavinia would have woken me by now but it’s just as likely she got caught up in her work. Farshore was soon to get very large indeed. Amella wouldn’t be starting the return trip for a few weeks yet, but already there were four ships full of supplies and settlers for her to manage. Lavinia needed to figure out where to put them all. Farshore would soon have sixty percent more people as it had before, and with the omans, mongrel folk, and phanatons running about the population would soon more then double.

I looked down at my hands. Each bore a scar now. I was glad that Lavinia hadn’t been upset about that, with how I got those scars, but she seemed to get upset about other things these days. Not so much mad at me, but she often seemed upset with how I acted in public now. Like me not using my ‘indoor’ voice when we were outside. It was very confusing. She and Worrin had conspired against me and now when we met with others I felt my great uncle’s disapproval through her eyes. Usually she got upset when I tried talking with people, like my speech for the foundling school, she’d gone to great lengths to make sure I had a proper speech written out for me, but then when it came for me to read it I got hung up on the words “it’s true, I‘ve had more advantages then you”. For some reason I couldn’t get past that and I kept repeating it. Then I went off script. Lavinia kept saying she wasn’t mad but I thought she was. She had put a lot of work into that speech and I’d mucked it up. The consolation was that the young women liked it. I’d apparently gone into rhyme.

I was still able to please her in other ways though. I glanced over to where my shift had landed, Lavinia and I were still very much able to connect physically, but I wished that I could be more use to her socially. There was a glorious window between when I first started working for Lavinia and before I came to this cursed island when I’d come out of my shell and I found talking easy. I might even have considered myself charming. Those days were gone though. She often consulted my expertise when it came to city planning, she loved picking my brain about history and dozens of other things, and we loved to talk. I could talk to her easily. I didn’t always make sense, I sometimes unknowingly switched between languages, but she never tried to hush me when we were in private.

I’d also drawn plans for several buildings for Farshore, land inside the walls was at a premium and expansion was necessary. We’d even broken ground on a couple of projects already. I entrusted someone else to act as foreman. People were cautious around me these days, not quite nervous, but certainly not friendly. I agreed with Lavinia that the more public exposure I had the more cautious people became. Best if people thought of me as the benevolent power behind the throne. I’d Let other members of the Swords of Sasserine handle negotiations from now on. I didn’t have any problems getting my mind across to them for some reason.

The sun was up so I decided to get up and get dressed. Steps Lavinia had stressed, I needed to move forward in steps. Break everything down into steps. My morning routine was now broken down into five steps: Step one, get up and get dressed, step two, get some breakfast, step three, find out if Lavinia needed me to do anything for her (I’d added this step myself), step four, check my notes and lists, and step five, make plans for the day. Easy. Washing up was part of step one I was sure. I wasn’t so far gone that I couldn’t delegate mundane tasks.

‘She worries about you,’ Hop-Toy said, peering out from the second washbasin Lavinia had added to the room, ‘And you have been relying on her more and more.’

“I need to get back to tracking down these black pearls,” I said, “That’s the business I’m best at. Not this socialization with mortal creatures.”

‘You’re still mortal yourself you know,’ Hop-Toy reminded me, ‘You’ve not made physical transcendence yet. This alignment with this outer realm hasn’t occurred yet, never mind the metamorphose that this Chimpman has proposed . . .’

“But my mind, nor my senses, are completely in tune with this world,” I said, “I find it harder and harder to function on their level . . .”

“As well you shouldn’t,” the thing in my haversack said. Lavinia could stand to look at it, and I honestly didn’t want it out while she was around anyways, and so in the sack it stayed, “This world is too four dimensional, who cares about the people of this world and their sad little perceptions? Already you mind has expanded beyond these confides . . .”

“First off,” I said, “I care. I care about this world, about my friends, about my lover, and I care about my goddess. All are part of this world. If I physically change that part of me won’t. That part of me will always remain the same.”

“If you say so,” the severed head said, “but you may find it’s like caring for bugs. Not that I doubt you’ll try, but they won’t understand you and they’ll be so squishy . . .”

I ignored the ape head. I focused on the task at hand. Step one: get dressed. I washed my face and hand, brushed my hair and my teeth. Then I put on some cloths. I walked downstairs to visit the dinning room. Sometimes Lavinia’s staff had breakfast already made for me when I came downstairs. Inside the dining room I saw fresh fruit, pealed and cut, sitting on a plate for me.

“Tristan,” Kiki said jogging up behind me, “Lavinia wants to see us! I think we’re finally gonna get some work for a change. This sitting around Farshore is driving me nuts!”

“But . . .” I glanced at the fruit, step two: eat breakfast, “I need breakfast . . .”

“Take it with you,” Kiki helpfully suggested, “I don’t think Lavinia would mind.”

“Yes,” I said nodding, I could eat and see if Lavinia had any plans for me, two steps in one, “That will do nicely. It’s all falling into place.”

In Lavinia’s office we discovered the Oman native we’d rescued from the troglodytes many, many weeks ago. Truth was I’d forgotten about him. He was accompanied by the village priest Vesserin. We reconnected. It seems he was on a mission to deliver a message from the elusive Noltus Innersol. I vaguely remembered him telling us that before in the caves, but what I didn’t know was there was an actual letter, and when we’d met him he hadn’t had the letter in his possession. That explained why he decided not to take our offer of taking him with us when we returned to Farshore. He told us his tale and I translated, Fredrick seemed to roll his eyes at my word choice, but Oman into common wasn’t a precise science, and every translator would add his or her inflection onto the work. Their just wasn’t a word for warrior’s wisdom for example, it might be translated thusly, or even as man’s wisdom as males were the warriors in the Oman culture.

The native, his name was Jakara, handed the scroll tube to Vesserin who opened it, read the contents, and then handed the letter over to us. I scanned the letter carefully. It seems Noltus Innersol was exploring the central plateau! I’ve long had some speculation as to what resided there, what had created these skin walkers, and what remained of the ancient Oman city that existed atop the great plateau at one time, but these were not things that I wished to explore on my own. Even if I knew I had Wee Jas’ favour, faith alone wouldn’t protect me from the evils that probably lurked above. Noltus hadn’t been heard from in months. I had little doubt that he was dead.

Vesserin excused himself shortly after reading the note, saying that he had something of Noltus’ back at the temple, and while we were discussing the note he returned with a small stone disk.

“This is partly to blame for Noltus’ journey to the central plateau I fear,” he said as he handed us the object, “Noltus discovered that quite early in his journeys and I fear he might have become obsessed with it.”

“What’s so special about it?” Kale asked without looking at the abject. Kiki and I immediately noted the irregular pattern on the outer ring of the object, while Buffy traced her finger over the central characters.

“Wait,” she said, as if suddenly realizing something, “That’s Tezcatlipoca, Tonatiuh, and Quetzalcoatl! And they’re working together!”

“Okay . . .” Kale said, “Let’s pretend for a moment that some of us don’t know who those people are.”

“They’re gods actually,” Buffy said, “Tezcatlipoca is a moon god, Tonatiuh is a sun god, and Tezcatlipoca and Quetzalcoatl hate each other. They all do, sort of. The fact that they’re working together is really odd.”

“Noltus believed that this disk came from Thanaclan,” Vesserin said, “And although I’m sure he has alternative reasons for being up there, I fear it might be the mystery of the disk that has him moving towards that ancient city.”

“What can you tell us about the bow?” Kiki asked, pointing towards the central image in the disk.

“Nothing I’m afraid,” Vesserin said, “But all three gods seem to be working together to build it don’t they? That’s the heart of the mystery. Noltus was very curious about this bow as well. When you find him could you give this disk to him for me? I’m sure he’d want it back.”

James of course jumped at the opportunity to aide Noltus Innersol. James wasn’t religious that I knew, and if he was I doubted that he worshiped Pelor, but sometime ago James had decided that these skin walkers must be stopped and he saw this expedition as a chance to bring this goal to fruition. I too was interested in dealing with these skin walkers. I suspected that they were demonic in nature and the chances that two demonic scourges afflicted this cursed island were slim to none. What was behind the skin walker’s evil was one of the mysteries that I very much wanted to answer. Lavinia also suspected that there was another piece to the pearl manufacturing process that we were missing and that these skin walkers were somehow involved. I couldn’t argue with her. While it was possible that the pearls were somehow manufactured entirely underground in the black bile there was still the mater of the human slaves the lords of dread were collecting. We’d found no bones or human remains below, and while we didn’t exactly search the area as thoroughly as we could have, I suspect that if human sacrifice were part of the manufacturing process, and I had a very strong suspicion that it was, that the koprus would have left some trace of the ill fated humans behind. The slaves had been taken elsewhere.

Traveling to the central plateau wasn’t a hard sell for the remaining members of the Swords of Sasserine. Buffy very much wanted to meet Noltus, he had been an instructor when she had graduated from seminary school in Sasserine, Kale was interested in vanquishing evil, Kiki just wanted some action, and Fredrick . . . Fredrick had started to become a bit of a magpie, the man wanted to take anything shinny, and I suspected that this ancient Oman city might still have it’s share of shinnies in it.

After our meeting I checked my notes. Step four: check my notes and lists. I had nothing pressing. Paperwork at the tower. Research Fredrick’s tooth. Track Scarlet Brotherhood activities. Find a ghost writer. Do some readings at the foundling school. Any one of those tasks could be moved to another day. Thanoclan and the central plateau were more important. I moved on to step five: make plans for the day.

. . .

“I think it’s likely that Noltus is dead,” I said, after we’d all crowded into the secure shelter.

Buffy gasped.

“Well I could think of a likely scenario where he might still alive,” I said trying to reassure Buffy, but I thought it best not to tell her that the scenario involved torture, questioning, and perhaps forced conversion, “But dead is probably better to plan for. Anyways I think it likely that these skin walkers are shape shifters. Possibly capable of taking on human guise. From now on we always travel in groups of two or more. We don’t investigate anything unless the others know where we’re going. We should also think up a code word.”

“What about ‘I am not a shapeshifter’” James suggested.

“What about ‘look out behind you!’” Fredrick suggested.

“What about people chip in so I can afford to buy a spell to create a bigger shelter?” I asked, shifting focus quickly, “That way I don’t have to deal with your stupid faces every minute of every day?”

“We were just kidding around Tristan,” James said, trying to look apologetic.

“I’d think if they were shape shifters that snake thing would have told us in the cat village,” Fredrick said, with a shrug.

“I think what Jakara described was kind of horrific,” Kale said, “but if they were shape shifters he would have said something.”

“I’m serious about the magic,” I said, “This shelter was fine when we were limping back from the crash site, we were desperate then, and was fine when we were underground, those blue flicking blue shadows made details impossible to pick out, but now we’re out in the open. I’m feeling very exposed in this shelter, you saw how easily that damn dirty ape dispelled it, well once we get to the plateau this house might be visible from miles away.”

“Well you’re the spell caster,” James had the gall to say, “Why don’t you just learn a new spell?”

“Because learning new spells costs money!” I snapped, “And why should I bare the burden of buying a new spell that essentially for all of us?”

“How much would a new spell cost?” Kale asked.

“The one I want costs two thousand, two hundred, and seventy five gold,” I said.

James made some chocking sounds.

“For that price I could almost get . . .” he started but I cut him off.

“Magic isn’t cheep,” I simply said.

“But . . .”

“It’s cheaper if the price is split eight ways,” Kiki said, “Not that Churtle or Orlani need to pay a full share. We could take it out of party funds though. Consider it a group expenditure? Next time we settle up the treasure we all take a little less?”

“Fine,” James sighed.

“So let’s settle up tonight then,” I said, “I can get to Sasserine tomorrow and have the spell scribed into my spell book by the time we reach this central plateau.”

. . .

After days of searching through this damn jungle we’ve given up on finding a path up. Early on I spotted a massive causeway that the ancient Omans had once built, but it had partially collapsed, and the gaps that remained were hundreds of feet wide. I reasoned that Noltus had gotten up there somehow and he had a dog and likely some lizard folk in tow, there had to be a path up, but sadly my team of intrepid adventures would get lost in the tall grass outside of Farshore. I’ll admit that I’m no ranger myself, but I didn’t want to come to this accursed island, plus I could fly and teleport! You’d think my compatriots might bother to learn the skills necessary to survive in their chosen environment.

Eventually we decided to dig into our potion supply and use the potions of fly that we’d taken off of the koprus under the island. We found an almost sheer cliff face and I did some quick mathematical calculations based on the estimated height of the cliff and the maximum climbing speed, and duration of the potions, I deemed the journey safe, as long as my friends didn’t dawdle, take the more scenic route, or take time to do some barrel rolls. Everyone drank their potions and flew for the top. I lagged a bit behind the others because my magical flight was a bit slower then theirs but soon we were all united at the top. Apparently my estimations were spot on. One drop less of magical flight and my companions would have plummeted to their dooms.

“Behold my new spell!” I said as I summoned Mordenkainen Magnificent Mansion. The air in front of us shimmered.

“So that’s it then?” James asked.

“Yes,” I said, trying to keep the pride out of my voice, “It lives up to its name. Magnificent isn’t it?”

“It certainly is something,” he said.

“Shall we go inside?” I asked, I was curious to see if the spell worked as I’d imagined it would, “The door should be open.”

“Um . . .” James said looking to Orlani, “Do you see anything?”

I’d forgotten that my group were susceptible to illusions, James particularly, and so I stepped forward and opened the door for them. Inside was a marvel of magic: I’d chosen a pallet of grey, deep green, crimson, and silver, if gave the room a nice comfortable earthy tone. The walls were lined with glyphs and hieroglyphics depicting our battles. There wasn’t a straight line in the entire structure. The Walls curved, the floor was concave, the ceiling budged, and the arms and legs of the tables and chairs resembled curving vines or tentacles. The place was lit with burning skulls (in honour of Wee Jas) but a few of the skulls burned with a green flame in honour of the Green Lady. At one end of the hall I had a stylized depiction of the Goddess Wee Jas on the other I had dread Cthulhu. I’d cleverly used the elder god’s tentacles to tie the room together, they extended from his mouth and formed the stairs and railings, and they also wrapped completely about the main room and eventually became part of Wee Jas’ hair.

“It’s . . .” James gasped, clearly at a loss for words.

“It’s a horror,” Kale mumbled.

“Yes,” I said with my smile, “It is. And it’s a wonder. If you need food all you need to do is ask and it shall be provided by invisible servants, we each have our own rooms as well, except for James and Orlani of course, because I assumed that they’d want to share. These rooms remain pleasant and dry no matter the weather outside, and as you discovered, the entrance is all but invisible. The best part is that despite the size of the place I can create this shelter anywhere. We are effectively in a pocket dimension at the moment. Our chances of being discovered in this shelter are slim to none. Now why don’t we all find our rooms and get a little shut eye.”

I went to my room where Lavinia’s face and form was written into the ceiling above my bed. I had four of my seven steps completed. I quickly moved to finish my evening routine. I consulted my notes from the morning. Step five. Some things I could cross off now. We’d reached the top of the plateau. I carefully underlined the note to locate lizard folk camp. They were all likely dead but perhaps I could find some clues left by Noltus in the camp. I then moved onto step six, update my journal. These steps make things easier I think. Lavinia always seems to know what’s best for me. I liked being able to stare up at her as I closed my eyes for the night.

Unto step seven,
Cthulhu dreams


Nice touch on the customization of the magnificent mansion. I wonder how many characters elected to risk encampment under the stars rather than in that extradimensional abode? :)

Taldor

Thanks Turin :)

I'm probably going to add some more detail for the author's notes as Tristan did customize the bedrooms as well. There were only two I remember, Kale's room and James' room, but I couldn't squeeze those descriptions into the narrative.

and look what I found from way back in 08:

Guy Humual wrote:
Kassil wrote:
You know, honestly, with the way that Tristan's mind is being influenced by her advancement in the alienist class, I'd almost have expected it to influence the conjured shelter; something along the lines of perhaps an organic look to the shape of it, as if the stone walls grew from the ground, or something similar.

I was actually thinking of something like that, but to my understanding, the spell as written, isn't really customizable. The outside only changes with the surroundings and the insides are crude at best. Believe me if Tristan could alter the insides she wouldn't be drawing a line down the centre every time she casts it!

Tristan has been eying the Mordenkainen's magnificent mansion spell though, that spell is customizable, and should she get her hands on that spell I can guarantee the insides of that place will be such a demented horror that only when compared to a true nightmare like Golismorga will it seem tame.

(But don't tell the other PCs because Tristan is trying to get them to chip in on the costs of the new spell).

Osirion

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

This is excellent as usual.

I would have expected Uncle Worrin to get a silent Rary's telepathic bond.

Taldor

logic_poet wrote:

This is excellent as usual.

I would have expected Uncle Worrin to get a silent Rary's telepathic bond.

Hey logic_poet, long time no see :)

That would be funny, but Great Uncle Worrin probably wouldn't want to be that blatant in his trespasses against his (now extremely dangerous) grand niece. I mean anytime you're casting spells against someone's consent you're opening a big bag of worms. One wouldn't want Tristan getting confused of his intent :D

Besides 5th level spells might be out of Worrin's spell range.

Osirion

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Actually, I meant her. Waving her arms around to work magic and still say nothing is just like a crazy person's idea of prayer to Wee Jas.

Also, silent telepathic bond is 6th.

Taldor

Hehe, that's even funnier. Sadly Tristan not only doesn't have this spell but had also used up her one use of sudden silent for the day. You might not have realized it but Tristan's peer review came on the same day as the ceremony that raised her as a black dagger. Tristan used her sudden silent ability on a teleport spell.

Osirion

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Ah, I forgot she had the old 3.5 sudden feats; I thought it was a metamagic rod. It's for probably for the best. The other voices in her poor head would have likely blasted his sanity.

Her odd word choices will no doubt be handy if she ever fires up the sendings and dreams.

Grand Lodge

logic_poet wrote:

This is excellent as usual.

I would have expected Uncle Worrin to get a silent Rary's telepathic bond.

That would have broken the spirit of the silent vigil. The purpose of a silent vigil is to is to humble one's self in preparation for your duties. Magically mouthing off to her uncle is not an act of humility.

Now Wee Jas is a Lawful Neutral deity, so Tristan may not have gotten in trouble for doing so, but that doesn't mean that Wee Jas would have been happy with her.

Taldor

Dax Thura wrote:
logic_poet wrote:

This is excellent as usual.

I would have expected Uncle Worrin to get a silent Rary's telepathic bond.

That would have broken the spirit of the silent vigil. The purpose of a silent vigil is to is to humble one's self in preparation for your duties. Magically mouthing off to her uncle is not an act of humility.

This is too true Dax. Tristan often says she's not overly religious but it's a bit of delusional thinking on her part. She's probably more religious then some of the clerics I've made over the years. What Tristan probably means is that she's not very overt with her religion. I doubt she would have willingly tried to cheat the vigil, though when Great Uncle Worrin shows up and tells her that he and Anwyn and Lavinia have been conspiring against her she almost forgets herself. Thankfully Great Uncle Worrin is able to quickly remind Tristan that it's a silent vigil :D

Taldor

Okay no new updates this week as last week I was working on something for the Wayfinder. Don't know if it's going to get in or not yet but I'm crossing my fingers. In the meantime here's some author's notes for the Lidu Diaries:

Three things of note in that opening scene:

1) Tristan has offices at the Witchwarden Tower and initiates and white daggers to do her bidding.

2) Tristan happily notes that she's a patron now, one assumes of a foundling school for girls.

3) Lavinia has a "not in public" face. I had fun with this scene, I love Lavinia getting mad at Tristan and Tristan's cheerful reaction. She's not exactly misinterpreting Lavinia at this point either, Tristan just seems to enjoy getting a rise out of Lavinia.

This scene, when we originally played it, happened just after Lavinia and Tristan went to the opera. This was also the session directly after Tristan successfully wooed Lavinia. The last 8 entries (and almost two years of writing {though to be fair I didn't write much in 2011}) actually took less then an hour to game in real life. Basically we're talking about 20 minutes at the end of TLD, and 40 minutes or so of the next session as we geared up for CoBI. Thankfully we're getting back on track now.

Next scene: Tristan is now doing things in steps. Lavinia's work naturally, but one wonders exactly how long this is going to last :)

This new system does allow Tristan to cackle as her plans fall into place though. That's a plus.

Now when Tristan translated the olman's speech in the game I did so for humorous effect. I wasn't going to add that to the journal but because Tristan and Snaggletooth were the only ones that could speak olman at this point only he could have pointed out Tristan's translation wasn't painting the olman in a favorable light. Fred wisely kept his yap shut.

Back into the wilds: one thing that always sort of amazed me about our team was that no one in our group seemed to take skills that were useful to the group outside of combat. Sure Buffy had knowledge: Religion and heal, and Kiki had search and disable traps (when she used them) but everyone else had tumble and stealth it seems . . . Well Fred did have diplomacy (which was nice to have someone capable of smoothing things over) and James had a ton of seamanship skills, but nobody had survival! Every time we walked into the woods we spent weeks trying to find anything. Course skills like survival should have been pretty much obsolete at this point with a flying invisible mage to guide the party, but our DM was very much by the book.

The Magnificent Mansion: Up to this point in the adventure Tristan was pretty much stuck buying her own spells. We didn't find much in the way of spell books and those two we did find were mostly lower level spells and spells Tristan already had or barred spells. I thought that if I were going to be supplying magic to the group they might at some point chip in to give me a break on my magic.

Tristan's mansion is pretty twisted as you might imagine, and every room had been personalized. The most common feature was an image of Tristan, in Kale's room there was a relief of Tristan that seemed to be weeping real blood. In James' room a disproving and scowling Tristan was etched into the ceiling over the bed:

"Cool," said James' player, "It'll be like a three way."

Osirion

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Tristan Lidu wrote:

.

.
.
.
.
Tristan’s Trick
[...]

It's similar the dimension door effect on a cape of the mountebank.

Taldor

Similar but not quite the same. For example Tristan could use this on an enemy's square.

Taldor

No updates this week. I caught something nasty yesterday and I haven't been able to finish the next Lidu diary off.

Previews: We find Noltus

Osirion

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Hope you are well!

Taldor

Sorry for neglecting this journal everyone :(

I am alive and well (physically anyways) but sadly I just haven't had the gumption to work on this journal. I am still writing but I'm doing something of my own at the moment. I can't say how long before I get around to the next entry but I sure hope it's not as long as my last hiatus.

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