Which I was very grateful for and am starting to learn the merits of combat casting over straight retreat.
I thought I would post Evlynne's journal for her fall (Session 19) and a picture of Evlynne. The start of it is mine; the last paragraph is PH's.
Evlynne's Post Session #19 Journal
“You’ve fallen Angel, took a little tumble but you’re alright…might as well stop your napping and get up; pain is a teacher, and you won’t learn anything lying down in the mud.”
I keep my eyes closed. I can feel the cold mud at my back as the comforting fog of unconsciousness slowly draws out of my body, replacing it with pain. I want to cry out but I stifle it, it doesn’t seem like something a warrior would do. I take in slow, deliberate breaths. My memories and thoughts form slowly. Someone is sharpening a sword behind me. Someone I know. Someone I trust.
“Get up”, the familiar voice repeats.
I open my eyes and push myself to my feet. I am greeted with the familiar sight of the Training Pit back at the Temple of Iomadae. I am in my armor and my brand new greatsword lies at the ground at my feet. It is early dawn, the sun just cresting over the horizon and I can see my breath as I fight to calm my racing heart. The cold doesn’t bother me, it never has; a gift of both my draconic and angelic heritage. I look down at myself and find that I am filthy. Unconsciously I start using my magic to clean myself…it doesn’t work.
I try again. Nothing.
I stare dumbly at the dirt.
“You’ll find that those stains will be a lot harder to remove than you think”, says the voice behind me.
Slowly I turn to face voice talking to me; he is a large man sitting on a stone in battered but well-kept armor. I recognize him immediately, Martin Greystone, master of arms of the Temple of Iomadea. He is human, but it was rumoured that he was also half-giant. His helmet lay at his side and he holds his massive broadsword in front of him, sharpening it while looking at me with calculating grey eyes. His long hair is pulled back in a pony-tail and his well-kept beard is similarly tied back to make it easier to put on his helmet.
He had been the one whose job it was to teach new recruits how to fight and care for their weapons. Even though Paladins of Iomadea favour longswords he liked a broadsword, taking advantage of his strength. He was a stern but fair teacher; he had been one of my few friends at the temple, and his face had the wrinkles of a man who laughs a lot. He was not laughing now.
I also remembered one more important fact.
He was dead.
“That dirt isn’t on your body, it’s on your soul; do you know where you are?”
I struggle to think, the first answer would obviously be the temple…but since it’s so obvious and I’m talking to my dead mentor I re-evaluate and quickly answer.
“A dream. This place looks like the Temple, and this particular time seems to be the first time I trained with you to learn to use my new sword, you knocked me down when we were sparring and I briefly fell unconscious.”
Long ago I had started to train as a paladin of Iomadea, but it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. It took me ten years to get to even a modest level of power. My ‘comrades’ were surpassing me in ability and it had been frustrating. Then after one fateful encounter everything changed. We had been on a routine mission to guard a caravan and had been ambushed. A half-orc had charged into us, he used his massive greatsword to sunder our weapons and shields and then let his band come in in his wake and slaughter the now defenseless warriors. He had just taken out my sword and shield and had knocked me to the ground when it happened.
My sorceress abilities manifested themselves. When his minions came in to kill me I raised my arm and a shield of magical energy came into existence deflecting their blows. My hands lashed out and ran across their chests, leaving a crimson path. Their surprise had been enough for us to recover and grab victory. No one had seen how I had overcome my enemy and everyone had a negative stigma against magic so I learned to use my powers in secret, and I found out that magic was something I excelled at. I had finally found something that I could learn at a regular pace; I was finally starting to be less of a liability. People eventually found out what I was anyway, and if they had avoided me before they really avoided me now. Martin Greystone had been the only one who still treated me as a friend, and we would train in the early hours before everyone woke up, and I would learn to use the greatsword. He was a good friend and I was saddened to receive a letter a few years ago informing me that he had been killed in the line of duty.
“Aye. A dream.” he replied standing and sheathing his sword, “We need to talk. The Lady is not pleased with you. First a question. It is one we have asked many times before but we need to hear your answer again before we can continue. Why did you desire to be one of Iomadea’s Paladin?”
I lowered my head and thought before answering. It was a question I had been asked many times. Although divine blood runs through my veins it is not hers or one of her emissaries, she already gave me that answer a long time ago. The practical reasons? It was a temple far away from my family and their constant feuding. It was a place I could be safe from them for a time, so my answer had always been that I was seeking her protection. That however had been when I was a child, and although the answer was true it was starting to dawn on me that it wasn’t the full answer to that question. Iomadea had been human and a noble soldier. She had risen to divinity. In a way with my bloodlines I had felt I was like her, and I wanted to emulate her. To be a strong warrior who could protect herself and others.
I looked around again and I realized why I was here, being brought back to this particular time in my life. It had been a turning point for me. It had been the time I had decided to turn my back on being a paladin and start training in being a dragon disciple. At first in small ways, the fact that I could create a magical shield meant that I could use a sword in both hands. Later, and as I kept practicing using my magic it yielded fantastic results, I finally became a great warrior, I finally became strong, I finally got what I always wanted…
“Power”, I answered in a flat voice, and I knew it to be the true answer and regretted it immediately.
The man before me nodded.
“You’ve wondered why you never really excelled at being a paladin, Angel. I think you’re finally starting to realize why. You’re a good person, trying to use your strength to shield those not as blessed as yourself. However, that strength was something that you desired more than watching others. We slowed your progress until, given enough time, and opportunity you could learn that for yourself. Unfortunately, you found another path to what you desired and turned from us."
I turn my eyes away from him, shamed.
“However, you are still one of us, even though you fight like a demon…”
“Dragon”, I interrupt quietly, my pride overriding my shame momentarily.
“…dragon and although you lack much of the training you are still a Paladin. You may never return to us, but that does not mean you can turn your back on everything we are. The Lady has protected you thus far and has accepted you as her representative, if you wish you remain under her hand then behaviour such as what we saw today has to stop.”
“The blood of noble dragons and angels runs strong in you; but there is a taint on your soul that can never be lifted. A darkness and temptation that whispers within you. We see it when you fight. You are not temperate, or moderate but feral…”
“My claws and teeth are a part of me”, I interrupt, “and a more effective weapon then any sword. “
“Aye, that they are. We do not disagree with your choice of weapon Dragon (though others might); but in how and when you use it. You must watch yourself more carefully than most or your own bloodlust may consume you.”
“Those giants you mercilessly attacked were just out doing a menial chore and initially meant you no harm. You didn’t even check if they were evil. We want you to know that they were not evil, they were not shining examples of good, but still, did not deserve to be slaughtered outright.”
“We are only a small band again an army of hundreds”, I answer hotly, “what would you have had me do instead?”
“You should have stepped out and offered them the opportunity to leave the army. True most like…”
"Stepped out?! If I had stepped out I would have presented myself as a target and risked them escaping and then through my actions brought an entire army on the heads of my companions. They weren’t just lumberjacks, they were soldiers…they did their jobs.”
“Nobody said being a paladin was easy Angel. Aye, they were soldiers and if you had come out they would have attacked and you would be free to act. If they had been evil, you would have perhaps been justified in how you acted. They were not evil. That is why we give you the tools; so that you can judge; but a tool is useless if it is not used. Evil beings are the only ones who deserve no quarter from us; everyone else gets a chance”
My resolve falters. He’s right of course. Even if they are soldiers and even if it would not have changed anything I should have checked if they were evil before attacking. I had had the time. Maybe my demonic half was getting stronger.
“We realize that you are surrounded by an army and without one of your own. Although a frontal assault would be preferable we know it would not be wise. Still you are our representative and as such you must be an example to not only those around you, but especially to your enemies. In the tower you killed a defenseless man in his sleep. Can I ask why?”
“What else would you have expected of me? Had he woken up; me and my allies would have been facing two angry giants in an enclosed space, either could have escaped and alerted the army. We had to maintain control of the situation otherwise we would not have gotten the information we needed.”
“Was he evil?”
I avert my eyes, and I feel face flushing a second time. When I answer it’s in a whisper, “I didn’t check.”
“I can tell you that he was, however a paladin does not murder an enemy in his sleep. A paladin watches her friends’ backs. It should not have been your hand that did the deed. You must hold yourself to a higher standard.”
To that statement I raise my eyes again, “And what else would you have me do?”, I reply anger heating my words, “I will not condone an action that I would not do myself. Any other option would have endangered lives.”
“Aye, angel. I know better than most that being honourable isn’t always the soundest tactical decision but that is the burden that we must carry. We are just saying that you have to watch yourself more carefully than most. Only fight in defense or against those who are evil and let it not be your hands that commit dishonourable acts. Do your best to find other more honourable ways to solve your problems. It’s all we ask and we ask in concern for your welfare.”
I hang my head in thought, and then finally nod my head.
“Good. Good. We will let this lay heavily upon you for the next few days. Think upon what you have done and what you can do better. Have faith in the Inheritor , channel her strength through your body and shine in her legion. Now pick up your sword, it needs a good cleaning.”
I turn to get my sword and face the sun, it fills my eyes with light and my body with warmth.
The dream then shifts. Now I am flying above the giant fortress. Down below I see scores of stone giants gathered around the great central pit. Their attention is focused on their leader. He too is a stone giant, but for a stone giant he is a runt, barely more than nine feet tall. Beside him is a pair of “monsters.” They look like attractive human females from the waist up, but their lower bodies are not human at all. They each have the lower body of lion. Their faces, which would otherwise be considered beautiful, are marred by expressions of hatred and cruelty, and they chant profane versus to some dark god. Before them standing at the edge of the pit is another stone giant. His arms and legs are bound, and he has clearly been the subject of much torture in abuse. The “diminutive” leader of the gathered giants shouts out to the crowd in the giant tongue. His voice booms as if enhanced by magic. I can’t tell what he is saying, but he is motioning towards the prisoner. It is then I notice a female giant in the crowd. She seems older and wiser than most of the other giants, perhaps an elder. I see that she is visibly horrified by the proceedings. Tears stream down her cheeks. The giant runt looks at her and laughs. Then he chants arcane words. A dark ray streaks out from his fingertip and hits the prisoner in the chest. Instantly the giant is disintegrated into a pile of ash. Then the runt casts another spell, and a gust of wind blows the ashes into the pit. The female elder wails in despair.
Iomodae has always encouraged her followers to cut down evil at its root. This giant wizard, and his monstrous allies are clearly such a vile root. Their will be no dishonour in killing them.