GothBard's Second Darkness Player Campaign Journals *SPOILERS*

Second Darkness

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Well, it's been quite a while since I promised that GothBard (Raesh's player) would start a campaign journal similar to Useplanb's, so I'm just taking the initiative and posting. This large group includes me, Shiro and Hi's players, Raesh's player as a GM, our wonderful goblin kids, and a few other players.

The characters include Raesh's adopted sister and Halek's long-lost brother.

Without further ado, I'll start letting the players post their journals.

And an honorary Silver Tsuto Award to the first person who correctly guesses me, Hi, and Shiro. Though if you just look at our aliases, then you get an honorless honorary award! :P

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Leilani Silverfalls, aasimar Life Oracle

What a day!

For tens of thousands of days, my life has been very simple: Wake up, preen, pray to Sarenrae, say goodbye to my mother and fly to Heaven's gate, meet my sergeant, train with the hound archons for the day, fly home, sing with my mother as the sun sets, dine, listen to stories of my father or my sister, and nest with my mother for the evening. Yet every single day my mother reminds me that I have a soul, and cannot live forever on the Celestial plane. My sergeant and my hounds warn me of the Material plane, and the fickle humans who might be greatly good, or might be greatly evil, but who hide their true natures from you.

Life was monotonous, but that did not make it boring. My mother's tales of my father's bravery and kindness sent goose bumps up my spine. For the first few decades of my life, my mother told me of my sister's childhood and how my father was raising her. She grew even more slowly than I did! My mother was very mysterious about her nature: She is a member of a long-lived evil race, yet she has a soul and my father had redeemed her, and now she is incorruptably good, and training to be a paladin no less! I was very sad when father passed away and reports of my sister's childhood stopped. I hope that father passes through Heaven quickly so he can achieve his status as an archon (my mother assures me he will) and rejoin my mother, though I now know I won't be there to meet him, and that saddens me even more. He made my mother flee to the Celestial plane when the Worldwound opened while she was still pregnant with me, and made her vow not to return to the Material plane until the Worldwound closed and the world was safe again. My mother weeps frequently at agreeing to this restriction, but she waits patiently for him, and now that he has died, she knows it is only a matter of time before he rejoins her on the Celestial plane. But it means that all I have ever known of him is the wooden holy symbol he gave my mother to give to me to remember him by, and the tales my mother reported to me from his prayers to her. And now I have left the Celestial plane before he was able to rejoin my mother. Someday, I will meet him! I must!

Life with the archons was similarly joyful. Once the sergeant learned that I was not proficient in combat (as he put it, "She wouldn't know which end of a dagger to use if you stabbed her with it!"), we focused on tactics that allowed me to fly behind the group, protected by them and providing shielding spells and healing to them as they fought. The hounds were wonderfully protective of me, and some were even daring enough to romance me. Ah, the thought of their sleeked-down fur, their rippling muscles, their bright greatswords, their glistening white teeth, their... but I digress. Unfortunately, the romances always ended up the same. Archons are archons, and are always predictable. A hound and I would start a romance, and spend several blissful years together. Then he would inevitably declare that hounds mate for life, and I must declare my unending, undying love for him. In all good conscience, knowing that I would eventually be sent to the Material plane, I could not make such a promise. And he would leave me. And we would be sad for years, but still have to work with each other. And then a new hound would step forward, and the process would repeat. It sounds utterly depressing to write it down, but it was wonderful to feel so loved, so needed, and so protected. Of all the things on the Celestial plane, I will miss my hounds the most. (Yes, my mother tried to introduce me to young male angels, saying that consorting with hound archons was "unseemly", but young male angels seem to be universally boring when compared to my dashing hounds.)

And then the day finally came. My mother approached me, and told me that an oracle of Pharasma had received a horrific vision of a world engulfed in darkness, with death and destruction everywhere. And I was a shining beacon of light in this darkness. No one could guess what the vision meant, but it was known that I was to be in the Material plane at a specific place at a specific time, and no one knew what I was to do there.

To say I was terrified would be an understatement. But I knew my duty, and would not shame my father and my sister (both paladins! What a family!) by showing fear. I dressed in my simple silks, donned nothing but the jewelry my mother had given me over the years, and told my mother I was ready. She led me to the archangel who would cast the spell sending me to the Material plane.

I greeted the archangel, bowed, declared that I was ready, folded my wings, and waited.

At the appointed time, she cast the spell and the world blurred around me...

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Leilani Silverfalls, aasimar Life Oracle

Ahem, gentle companions! It has been nearly a week and I see that my writings are the only ones appearing here, save for the rogue NobodysHome! Vorne, I put it upon you to post SOMETHING! You are a dear fellow, and I am sure that others would like to see your version of the events leading up to my fall...

...and I was dropped unceremoniously on top of a human man in robes! As I sat on him, trying to get my bearings, another human man grabbed me by a wing and an arm (a wing! The nerve!!!!) and dragged me off of the first man. They were all yammering in a language I could not understand. I know that Sarenrae knew my mind was weak compared to the archons, and protected me by blocking all languages other than Celestial from my mind during times of extreme stress, but this was downright inconvenient!

I called for my hounds to protect me, but no one seemed able to understand me. A massive man in a mask and a greatsword approached and cut down a woman near me. I began to fear for my life! Finally, a voice called out in my native tongue that help was on the way, and I was to trust the man with the greatsword. What relief! But above me hung a demonic abomination in a cage! As the fight roiled around me, I demanded that someone kill it. When no one complied, I asked for a weapon. The man who spoke Celestial told me that they were a bit too busy to help me at the moment. As I pondered how I was going to reach the devil to kill it, the man who had hold of my wing suddenly pulled me in and held a knife to my throat, muttering something gutteral and threatening! A quick spell of protection (Sanctuary) forced him to release me, and I hurried away from him as several of the Celestial-speaking man's allies finished off the last of the attackers.

As the combat ceased and I knew I was safe and no longer under attack, I tried to fly up to assail the devil. And fell. My wings were not strong enough to carry me aloft on this plane! What frustration! As I pondered how I could reach the devil to slay it, I started to recognize a word here or there as the gathered humans spoke to one another. Finally, after a few minutes I was able to determine that they were speaking the Common tongue common in the Inner Sea region of the Material Plane. Thank Sarenrae! That was one of the few tongues my mother had taught me as necessary to my survival! I introduced myself, and learned a bit about the others in the group:
- The Celestial-speaking man is a human named Vorne, who has aspirations of being a wizard. He has many hounds at his beck and call, indicating that he must be powerful on this plane. I should get to know him better.
- The hound with the greatsword is a human named Sans-Quah, though he is quite large, speaks little, and hides behind a mask. I cannot be certain he is human, but he is loyal to Vorne, and he did rescue me from the group of cutthroats who were trying to harm me, so I will allow him to protect me.
- Another hound is named Taleck, another man-mountain with dark skin, no hair, many tattoos, and a giant hammer. He refers to himself as a Shoanti, and expresses jealousy of his brother's exploits. I have been warned to avoid those who seek personal glory, as they usually meet ends that lack the 'l', but he reports to Vorne, and Vorne seems like a much more level-headed individual.
- Partnered with Taleck is a strange little half-elf named Lian. He speaks very little, and seems very shy and terrified of strangers. I do not know what use he is, but Taleck likes him, and he seems harmless enough.
- Carmen is a woman who works in this establishment. While all of the other workers fled, she stood her ground and prepared to fight. My hounds taught me that loyalty is a very rare commodity on this plane, and thus she seems like a friend truly worth having. She offered to take me shopping for 'decent clothes' tomorrow; apparently my celestial silk is too revealing for the modesties of this plane.
- Zokrim is a shadow man from the Shadow plane. I have never met a creature from a neutral plane before, so I look forward to finding out what he is like. He claims that he is here to investigate the "shadow in the sky". I have no idea what that is, but it sounds important. Vorne said that he is investigating the shadow as well. Perhaps this "shadow" may be related to the visions of Pharasma's oracle? It seems far too much of a coincidence for me to arrive here just as two men investigating the shadow did!
- Saul Venkaskerkin is the owner of this establishment, the Golden Goblin. He was unwilling to allow me to kill the devil, "Old Scratch", as he calls him, but swore an oath that he would never release him. This is actually better than killing him, as it traps him on this plane for eternity.

I ensured that none of the fallen were in danger of dying; fortunately, they had all stabilized nicely without my assistance. Saul thanked us profusely for saving his establishment, and allowed our party members to strip the fallen of their gear. Once they knew the worth of the gear, Saul pressed gold into our hands. Not only did I have no idea what to do with it, nor a place to put it, but I did not feel that falling on a man counted as "helping". Vorne insisted that I had saved his life and earned the gold, and offered to carry it for me. I thanked him, grateful that I had someone I trusted who would carry my coinage. My mother taught me a great deal about the value of gold on this plane, but she neglected to teach me little things like: How much is 20 gold coins worth? Can I buy a meal? A house? A castle? I suppose I will find out.

Saul was ecstatic. Not only had we saved his establishment, but a real life "angel" had fallen into his life. I corrected him that I was only a half-angel; my mother was a full angel, but my father was a human paladin, but he would not be dissuaded. He declared then and there that he would rename his establishment, "The Glorious Goblin", remove the demonic taint and devil worship from it, and devote it to worship of Sarenrae and other good gods. He asked whether we could help him with this conversion. How could I object? Even if I convert only one of every thousand people who comes in, I am still successful, and I am still doing Sarenrae's work.
Is that really my destiny, then? To help at this establishment and convert enough people to worship of Sarenrae that the catastrophe does not unfold? That seems far too simplistic; there must be something more I must do!

Saul also offered us lodgings. My room had a bed in it with straw that poked through the sheets and seemed very likely to impale me were I to try to sleep on it. I pulled the sheets and blankets to a corner of the floor, but they were not thick enough to hide the hardness of the wooden planks. I asked Saul whether he could spare any extra blankets, and he himself brought me two more blankets, which were enough to make my nest on the floor adequate. How humans survive for decades on this plane in such uncomfortable beds is beyond me!

Once I had prepared my nest, I went down to join the others. They were heading to a local tavern. Never having been to a tavern before, I readily agreed to accompany them. As we walked towards the tavern, I learned my next hard lesson of the Material Plane: Cobbblestones and bare feet do not mix. I could not fly, for my wings were not strong enough on this plane. Overwhelming pride made me walk the entire distance to the tavern on my bare feet. I will not make that mistake again! Broken pride heals faster than bloody feet!

The tavern was a temple of Cayden Cailean, so I was at least familiar with some of the custom. I would not drink the ale, but I asked for a mug, and the proprietor provided me with a mug rumored to have been used by Cayden himself. I purified it and summoned my own water to drink, but I blessed the barkeep and his establishment for their kindness.

We settled in to talk about ourselves, and learn more about what had brought us together...

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Vorne Gallowscast, human wizard

Ah, this is the life…
My parents, both Caravan merchants (and wealthy), chose sometime ago that I was to become a wizard. I was fully capable of performing the mental gymnastics required to turn thought into magic and had passed all of the simple tests given to a prospective adept. Indeed, I’d even shown quite a bit of aptitude at destructive magic and only tested poorly in the rather whimsical spells dealing with illusion and the darker ones that revolve around the manipulation of dead things. Neither of those schools thrilled me and as such the news wasn’t much of a surprise to me or my first instructor.

Alas, as you might expect… training in the art of magic requires a stout dedication, many years of service, and most importantly; a place to call home that didn’t wander the lands on four wheels. My parents understood all of this and at the age of 14 they contracted with a master wizard to house, feed, and teach me the mystical arts. They also gave me a stipend to live upon, a stipend that was more gold than I’d ever seen in my entire life.

My first master and I found out fairly quickly that a serious wanderlust lives within my heart. After a few months of dedicated training I could sit still no more, apologized and went on my way. I moved on searching for something great to do or someone else to train under. And that was my life from the age of 14 until today some 4 years later… master after master, traveling from place to place all across Varisia. I found I could live on a pittance compared to the well hidden stash of gold I carried. My funds barely declined and I learned from many great wizards. Each taken in by my charm and then later bidding me a fond farewell as the wanderlust took hold and I moved on. All of them leaving me with the same advice, “Settle down and put your mind to magic or you’ll never amount to anything!” This was of course not news to me. I could tell that I had great potential but just had not found the right motivation yet.

My most recent master, and perhaps my last, suggested that I needed a challenge to force me to excel. Perhaps a puzzle to solve or some wrong to right. I wasn’t sure one way or another but when he offered a puzzle with a reward for its solution I could feel a stirring deep inside. Perhaps that is what I needed… He told me of a great dark blot, a mysterious cloud that formed and moved over Riddleport. A cloud that had caught the eyes of many and that still had no reason to exist. A puzzle in the sky for which a solution offered to the right person would be worth a good deal of prestige and a greater deal of money. My real story begins there, as I arrive in Riddleport; the first step on a journey that would take me from fledgling adept to a powerful respected wizard… or so I hoped.

Grand Lodge

Its great to have a new campaign journal to read from the beginning. Its sometimes to daunting to start reading an established journal (that and I am lazy).

I look forward to reading the posts of the players. :)

Well, I'm glad to have gotten at least ONE post from someone other than me (yeah, how many people couldn't guess I'm Leilani? I wonder...)

I tried to get the kids to post, because I thought hearing their points of view would be hilarious, but they panicked.

So I'm badgering the heck out of Raesh's player, Vorne, and Taleck to start posting things. I can't post Leilani's next section until Vorne catches the readers up on what was happening in the Material Plane.

Ahem, Vorne?

EDIT: On the other hand, it might be fun to post all her stuff and have the readers thinking, "What the heck is going on? Who is this psychotic half-angel, and what's the rest of the group doing? And what does any of this have to do with the plot of Second Darkness?"

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Leilani Silverfalls, aasimar Life Oracle

I spent most of the evening conversing with Vorne. He is insatiably curious about the Celestial plane and my nature. I told him about training with the hound archons (my "hounds", which is why I use it as a term of endearment for the fighters who protect me), the nature of my being (I have a soul, and hence cannot live on the Celestial plane forever), my sister, and particularly my romantic life. He seems obsessed with the notion of angels having sex. Where does he think aasimar come from? I gave him the whole history of my mother's romance with my father, how I was conceived, and how I was born and raised on the Celestial plane. He still could not wrap his mind around the fact that angels may couple, even with humans. He is dearly naive! But I have to remind myself how much younger he is than I.
Vorne was concerned about my judgement of Saul; he felt that I should be more cautious. As I explained, whether or not Saul honestly believes he is doing good is irrelevant; the fact that he is converting his establishment to one of divine worship and allowing me to interact with the guests is enough. I have no doubts that Saul will change his nature according to what is best for him, but at the moment he and I are in agreement as to what should be done with the Glorious Goblin, so I am happy to work for him.
Finally, he suggested that I needed armor and a shield to protect myself on this plane, as well as to cover more of my body. Riddleport is hot, and the notion of wearing full leathers does not appeal to me, but I must accede to the wisdom of those who know the plane better than I. Towards the end of the evening, he asked whether he might touch my wings. I let him touch the very tips very gently at the tavern; my mother warned me that many would covet my wings, and try to take the feathers or even whole pieces of them, but Vorne was quite gentle, so I offered to let him explore them more thoroughly once we were safely at Saul's.

Unfortunately, he is not nearly as talkative about himself or the Material plane; of him I learned that he has parents who love him very much, had aspirations of being a wizard, but was too busy wandering the world to bother doing much about it. About all I learned about where I was was that Riddleport is a poor example of the Material plane, so I should not judge all of the plane by its shortcomings. Faint praise indeed! Fortunately, I was able to explain my language situation to him, and he agreed to translate from Celestial to Common for me during combat, so I feel that I can be effective when the need arises.

The proprietor of the tavern was kind enough to provide me with a pair of boots some other patron had left behind, so I managed to walk back to the Glorious Goblin without further harming my feet, nor my dignity. Once we were in private, I allowed Vorne to explore my wings more thoroughly, and even spread them to their full length for him. I promised him a shed feather once I had preened a few times and one came loose. Finally, he was wondering about a child's hug, where you wrap the little one in your wings to provide him or her with extra reassurance, so I gave him one. It was very silly, but he blushed tremendously. His notion of angels seems quite distorted!

I settled in for the night in my makeshift nest, and looked forward to greeting the morning.

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Leilani Silverfalls, aasimar Life Oracle

Will the annoyances of this plane never cease? I arose 15 minutes before the dawn to greet the sun, and the dwarf Larur was awake and quite kindly agreed to bring me a ladder and help me to the roof of the Glorious Goblin to greet the sun. So I climbed to the roof, preened, and waited... and waited... and waited...

It turns out that Riddleport is overshadowed by a ridge that prevents the sun from hitting it until at least an hour after sunrise! How can Riddleport NOT be a den of iniquity when it is hidden from the sun for so much of the day? I performed my preening and my prayers, waited for the sun, and went down to shower off. Larur waited there the entire time! He is a dear fellow! I must find a way to thank him!

By the time I had come downstairs, several of my comrades had arisen. I collected some stale bread, cheese, and old fruits, purified them, and had a light but tasty breakfast. We discussed our plans for the day, and Vorne, Taleck, Lian, and Zokrim agreed to accompany me on my shopping trip, depending on what Saul had in store for us. Carmen explained that she had duties at the Glorious Goblin, and apparently Saul wanted Sans-Quah there as well, to "keep away any trouble".
Unfortunately, Saul is a very late riser; the kitchen does not formally open for cooked breakfasts until 11:00 am, and Saul will not come forth from his lair until he can have a hot breakfast.
So our morning involved more waiting, and more conversation with my colleagues. Vorne quizzed me more about the Celestial plane and where angels come from, but in return I learned more about his caravans, his childhood, and the many children he grew up around. It sounded delightful, and one day I hope to meet his family and his caravan!

Finally, Saul emerged and met with us. He had no work for us for the day, as the Glorious Goblin was mid-renovation, and would not be ready until the morrow. With our breakfast and our meetings complete, the five of us set out into Riddleport.

Our first destination was the temple of Calistria: I knew that Saul wanted me to advertise the Glorious Goblin throughout Riddleport, and I know that Calistria guards her domain closely. The last thing I wanted to do on this plane was to stir Calistria's wrath so early in my visit! As we approached the temple, Taleck and Lian pointed out an exquisite leather shop just outside of the temple. "Livorna's Leathers" was filled with exquisitely-worked leathers, but it was clear even from the outside that most of these leathers were worked for priestesses of Calistria, and would be inappropriate for me to wear. In spite of this, we went inside, met the proprietess Livorna Nyliss, and learned that the prices were as outrageous as the wares; I could not afford clothing from this shop, even if I chose to wear it.
We approached the temple of Calistria, and I requested a meeting with a priestess. Unsurprisingly, the acolyte asked me whether I was looking for work. I informed her that I was not, but needed to speak to a priestess. She dutifully fetched a priestess, and I asked the priestess about the nature of Calistria's businesses in Riddleport, and whether Saul's establishment would be in direct conflict with their "business". She assured me that it would not, so I felt far freer to advertise Saul's business throughout the city.

Considering the prices at the Livorna's Leathers, Taleck and Lian recommended Findler's Findings, a small shop owned by Alar Findler. Apparently this was a store where every single item had been purchased by another person, then sold back to the store. What a strange concept! If you did not need the item, then why did you purchase it? Vorne valiantly tried to explain to me, but I am afraid I am still a bit confused by the whole notion of money. We went to the store, and it was truly a wonder of human ingenuity. Mountains of goods were stacked throughout the store in perilous piles, looking as if the slightest breeze might topple them. I folded my wings tightly against my back as I entered. Mr. Findler greeted us warmly, and my first request was a pair of sheepskin moccasins. The entire party objected; I could not wear such light footwear in Riddleport! Sighing, I accepted the worn-looking boots they pressed into my hands. They were acceptable for walking, but really quite hideous otherwise. Vorne also had me purchase a sturdy, functional, and completely unflattering set of travel clothes (Explorer's Outfit) and some leather armor for my protection. It took some time, but Mr. Findler managed to find a suit of armor that was backless enough to allow my wings freedom of movement. I asked Vorne whether I had enough money to afford all of these things, and he assured me that I had plenty.

We proceeded through Riddleport into the Cipher district, where there was apparently a wondrous clothing store called the Silken Thread, along with many magic shops that might be of interest to Vorne. The Silken Thread was indeed wondrous! Incredible dresses of dazzling colors graced the windows. As I stepped in, a wonderful, handsome, dark-skinned older man called out, "Ah, Alinza, come see! A beautiful angel has decided to grace us in our store!"
I smiled at the compliment and spread my wings a bit for him, and a woman's voice cried out, "Ah, Neelan! You say that about all the women who... oh my!"
I cannot express how wonderful it was to have two people fawn over me so completely. They were amazed to have an "angel" in their store, Alinza clucked at the hideous outfit I was wearing, and they searched for clothing "suitable for an angel". It was almost embarrassing, but I perservered.
Much to my dismay, I saw that Neelan was missing his leg. I asked about it, and he admitted that he and his wife were Varisians who specialized in silks and dresses, but he had lost his leg in an accident, and they had had to settle down in Riddleport because he could no longer travel. This would not do! I asked him why he had not had it regrown, and he told me that while that might be common on the Celestial plane, it is not so common on the Material plane. I summoned healing energy. It did not restore his leg. I cast my healing spells. That did not heal his leg! What is wrong with this plane that you cannot cure a simple severed leg? For Neelan's sake, I WILL find a way to heal him!

Then came The Dress. Alinza swept out of the back carrying a thing of beauty; all sky blue silks washing from dark to light, with golden embellishments, that draped like a waterfall over my body. It was, quite simply, the most beautiful article of clothing I have ever seen. And it fit me! And it was beautiful on me! And it had space for my wings to come out the back! The entire party marvelled at the magnificence of it. And I asked Vorne whether I had enough, because I *sooooo* needed this dress. And Alinza told us it was 300 gold pieces. THREE HUNDRED! My wings drooped. Even my shoulders sagged. I had never wanted something so much as this dress, but all of us together did not have nearly that much gold. So I thanked Neelan and Alinza, she helped me out of the dress, and I put on my suddenly less-than-adequate celestial silks. She promised that she would hold the dress for me for a day, but I did not think that would be much use; given a day or a thousand days on this plane, three hundred gold seemed an insurmountable quantity. How would I even carry that much?

I am ashamed to say that the rest of the shopping trip passed without my paying too much attention. Vorne visited several magic shops, we ate at an unremarkable dining establishment, and I returned the borrowed boots to the temple of Cayden Cailean. But I am nothing if not dutiful, so when I finally found a somewhat-crowded square, I cast a simple cantrip to enhance my attractiveness (Enhanced Diplomacy), had Taleck lift me high over his head, invoked my halo (Daylight), spread my wings, and called out the opening of a wonderful new establishment, the Glorious Goblin, on the morrow. I do not believe I swayed too many people, but enough announcements would get enough people to fill Saul's establishment, and would give me a chance to redeem at least some small few of them. It is a bit embarrassing that I do not know how to stop my halo once it has been invoked, but ten minutes later it went out, and we proceeded back towards the Glorious Goblin in relative anonymity. We dined at the Goblin, and I retired to my nest fairly early, still dreaming of my beautiful dress.

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Leilani Silverfalls, aasimar Life Oracle

Today was the day of the grand opening of the Glorious Goblin, so all of us had a great deal of work to do. Taleck and Sans Quah were put to work using their considerable bulk to move furniture. Carmen trained the new girls (many had quit after the fight). Vorne used his magics to enhance the appearance of the hall. Lian and the shadow man Zokrim? I'm not so sure what they did. I went out into Riddleport again (with my hounds Taleck and Lian, and with Vorne, of course) and made another announcement. Vorne also went out on the town on "business", but I did not accompany him. I was of little use moving furniture, but I helped as I could with what chores needed to be done. While I still cannot fly on this plane, I have no fear of heights, so I helped with hanging decorations from the ceiling, though Saul stopped that as soon as he saw it. Apparently I am not to put myself in any danger. As if climbing ladders is a danger!

Towards the end of the day, Saul asked us to all prepare for the evening. I went upstairs to my room to wash and preen and found a paper-wrapped package on my nest. Curious, I picked up the package and found a note:

A small token of gratitude for your most kind companionship.
It would be a crime to allow another to purchase or wear such a beautiful gown when it looked so nice on you!
Your friend,

Heart pounding, fingers shaking, I carefully and slowly pulled at the strings, impatient, but not daring to risk damaging the package's contents. It couldn't be! How could he? Did he really have that much money?
It was.
The dress spilled out of the package and flowed across my hands, beautiful and silken and wonderful in every way. I hate to admit it, but I squeaked. Yes. An involuntary, audible squeak escaped my lips. It was too incredible to be true! What a gift!!
I immediately stripped down, preened, washed, and put on the dress. And it was just as beautiful as it had been the day before. Ah, the Glorious Goblin was in for a grand opening indeed! I put up my hair as best as I could, adjusted my mother's jewelry, and prepared myself for display. While I realize that excessive vanity is a dangerous sin indeed, I must say that I was quite the sight in my silken dress, hair up, jewelry arranged, and face glowing in anticipation. I had no shoes worthy of the dress, so I went barefoot to the hall.

As I started descending the stairs to take my post at the door, I heard Saul cut off mid-sentence to watch me. I walked with all the grace and poise I could, and saw him holding a sad-looking bit of white cloth that he might have been intending for me to wear, but which he quickly hid behind his back. He beamed, "Leilani, you look truly like an angel, with a dress befitting one!"
I beamed and took my position at the door, greeting guests as they came in, offering them purified water if they wanted it, and pointing them to the bar if they wanted something stronger. I knew the names of all the games, if not the rules, and sent guests with more serious questions about gambling towards Carmen, as she knew the ins and outs of the hall better than anyone save Saul himself, or perhaps Larur. Throughout the night, Taleck and Lian remained a few feet behind me, ready for trouble in case I should need help. Carmen worked the tables, Sans Quah patrolled the floor, and Vorne went here and there, performing his magics to make the Glorious Goblin truly glorious. I wanted to rush to him; to hug him and tell him how much I adored the dress. But I had my duty at the door, and did not shirk it. But I know he stole quite a few glances my way, and the smile on his face indicated he appreciated the dress as well. I supposed I had to be content with that for the evening.

The night went well, with no significant incidents, and many, many guests. I did get a chance to briefly thank Vorne for his magnificent gift, but the Glorious Goblin was so busy I didn't get a chance to give him proper thanks, or let him know how much I loved the dress, and by the time I was off-duty it was far past my bedtime and I retired to my nest, exhausted.

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Leilani Silverfalls, aasimar Life Oracle June 15, 2013 session

I woke the next morning to find Larur in quite a state! He told me that he didn't want to bother me with trivialities, but at my insistence he admitted that a known thug, Beltias Kreun, had been seen gambling at the Glorious Goblin the previous evening, and had made off with several hundred gold pieces! Larur described the gold as "missing". I must admit, I am unfamiliar with the intricacies of gambling, but I was under the impression that it was quite possible for a gambler to walk away with hundreds of gold pieces, but Larur's distress indicated that this was something unusual for him. I sought out Taleck, and he immediately volunteered his and Lian's services. Ah! Is there anything more reassuring than a loyal hound on any plane? I thanked Taleck profusely, and impatiently waited for Vorne and the shadow man Zokrim to wake up; I knew that Saul preferred Carmen and Sans Quah remain at the Glorious Goblin; she to train the new girls, and he to "keep away trouble".

Once Vorne and Zokrim were awake, I explained the situation to them, and they agreed to help. It took my hounds almost no time at all to learn that Beltias had established himself at a disgraced temple of Sarenrae on the east side of town. Blasphemy on top of chicanery! The man was a rogue, to be sure! Taleck and Lian led us to the temple, which was surrounded by poverty and need. Was there ever a better place for such a temple, and was it ever more disgraceful that such a temple had fallen into misuse and disrepair?
As we approached, Lian tried to scout ahead for us, but received an arrow in his chest for his troubles. I healed him and we headed around the back. There, we found a tree that we could climb to a second-floor balcony. It had a few belongings hidden inside of it, but nothing of significant note. The balcony was populated with pigeon cages. We ignored the birds and moved inside. In the first room we found an older human lying abed. We captured him quickly, and learned that his name was Geezer Pidge, and he cared for the pigeons. I assured him we were not here to harm his pigeons, and informed him as to Beltias' infamy. He was shocked, but agreed to lie still and not betray us, so we let him be.

On moving into the hallway, a massive combat ensued. I am proud to say that I kept my hounds alive, exactly as per my training. A vicious half-orc dropped Taleck in his tracks, and I healed him. Many party members received grievous wounds from Beltias' men, but I kept them all hale and hearty, and we were victorious, in no small part thanks to the bravery of my hounds, and the castings of Vorne. We searched the men, but none of them were Beltias. After a bit of questioning, they admitted that Beltias was not among them, and would not return until the eve. I asked where the priest of this temple was, and how he had allowed it to fall into such disrepair, and they told me that he was sleeping off a drunk in his chambers!

Enraged, I invoked my halo and stormed into the priest's chambers. I called him out for betraying
Sarenrae, and his pitiful excuses that pain from arthritis drove him to drink fell on deaf ears as I lay into him. Satisfied at his chastisement and true desire to atone for his misdeeds, I stormed downstairs to find who else was responsible for this travesty. I was intercepted by Brother Jhonas, who was suitably appalled to hear of Beltias' misdeeds, and explained that the temple had fallen on hard times. Father Padrick's arthritis had driven him to drink, and their entire temple ran on an anonymous donation of 25 gold pieces a month that they used to feed, clothe, and assist those in need. My mood softened at Brother Jhonas' attitude, and as I entered the temple proper, I am certain I created quite the scene: Halo blazing, wings spread, a group of blood-spattered fighters at my back...

Needless to say, the parishioners most in need flocked to me. A young boy explained that his family had not eaten in days. I gave him 10 gold pieces to feed his family and stay out of trouble. Vorne chastised me for my generosity, pointing out that those same 10 gold pieces would have helped the temple much more. Suitably chagrined, I spoke to the next petitioner. He was a poor, insane man named Mika, who believed that he was an angel as well, and had been helping the hopeless of the city achieve a higher state by pushing them off of tall buildings. I spoke to him at length of Sarenrae's plans for him, and convinced him that gardening was a far better vocation than murder if he truly wanted to be blessed in the eyes of Sarenrae. The temple needed a dedicated caretaker, and if I could turn his madness to such care, it would be a great boon for both him and the temple.

The afternoon progressed swiftly as I spoke with each petitioner in turn, spread the word of Sarenrae, and hoped to return the temple of some semblance of functionality, as Vorne and my hounds watched over me. Father Padrick staggered down at one point, but, seeing that I was doing more good than he had in months, staggered back upstairs. The man needed redemption far more than anyone else in the temple! As the day progressed, I purified all the water in the fountains, purified all of the food in the kitchens, and had my hounds and Mika help clean the temple of debris, detritus, and who knows what else.

As evening approached, we set up an ambush for Beltias: All of us sat in the pews among the other parishioners, waiting for him to arrive. Father Padrick made an impassioned presentation; hopefully spurred a bit by my presence, and let us know when Beltias arrived. The fight was short and brutal: Vorne, Taleck, and I took on Beltias, as Zokrim and Lian pursued his two cohorts upstairs. Beltias nearly escaped, but Taleck smashed him down as he leapt out the door. I am afraid he did not survive. I should have stabilized him, but perhaps Sarenrae herself made me forget to do so...
Player Note: Yeah, sometimes you just forget to say things out loud...
We stripped the villains of their belongings, found Larur's gold, and Vorne told me our shares would be several hundred gold pieces each! The town guard arrived to deal with the villains. As I understand is typical for such types, they swore revenge on us all. Vorne spoke with the guards and they carted the vagabonds away. As we returned to the Glorious Goblin, loot in tow, I pondered how best to help the temple that had fallen so far and so fast...

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Leilani is very lovely. She has beautiful...wings. Slowly I am coming to understand that she is speaking a tongue of her own when she is excited. I thought she might be unhinged, but am glad this is less likely to be true. I'm learning to understand her, which is often much better than not understanding her.

I have a new hammer.

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Leilani Silverfalls, aasimar Life Oracle

I spent much of that night thinking about Vorne. He was a kind and generous man, had saved my life with his hounds when I first entered the plane, and had bought me an extravagant gift in the dress I so loved. Although it is not something we are supposed to concern ourselves with, it did not hurt that he was easy on the eye. It was clear he was interested in courting me. I thought long and hard about the prospect, and decided that yes, I would indeed allow him to do so. I was unfamiliar with the customs on this plane, but I was sure they were similar to my own, so Vorne would understand them.

In the morning, I dutifully tracked the blot's location, as Vorne had asked me to do. He is apparently starting to take his research more seriously! Once Vorne was awake, I took him aside and went straight to business. I informed him that I had considered the question carefully, and would indeed allow him to court me. He expressed surprise that he did not need to ask permission of my mother or father, and I pointed out that my father was dead and my mother was on another plane, rendering such formalities a bit beyond the realm of simple convenience or protocol. He then queried me as to the nature of Celestial courtship. His hesitation gave me hesitation as well, and I expressed aloud that if he were still interested in pursuing other women, I would withdraw my request. He begged me continue, so I explained how we would first wear tokens of each other's favor, then, after a few weeks, we would be allowed to kiss. His obsession with sex and my relations with the hound archons continued, and he seemed beyond astonishment that I had been courted by well over a dozen. I pointed out that I had been a woman of age for well over eighty years, so it was only natural that I not be a virgin, as courtships that lasted more than a year usually led to such coupling. This seemed to appall him; apparently his vision of angels is of pure, unvarnished, untouched souls. How I must disappoint him!
Sure enough, after a long discussion as to our families, my longevity, and other potential issues, Vorne declined to court me. I will not lie and say I was not disappointed! However, he wanted to remain friends, and so, in a fit of care for him and his good nature, and to show how much I valued our friendship, I reached back, found one of the most sterling pinions on my wings, and... plucked it!

OUCH! May I advise any gentle readers with feathers -- Do not pluck your own pinions! I stanched the bleeding easily enough with a touch, and though the feather was beautiful and perfect in almost every way, it had a bit of blood on the end. Vorne did not seem to mind a bit, and proudly attached it to his cloak. How dashing it looked! I only wished it had more significance than a mere token of friendship...

Later that morning, Larur came to us with our shares of the gold we had earned in defeating the ruffians: Over 200 gold apiece! I knew what good this could do, and asked Larur to direct me forthwith to an apothecary. It turned out that his aunt ran an apothecary for the dwarves from the mines, and would sell to me on his good word. What luck!
I gathered Taleck, Lian, Zokrim, and Vorne, and once again we set out through Riddleport. Our first stop was at the apothecary. There was no sign on her door, but at the mention of Larur's name she let us in. As I explained Father Padrick's symptoms, she clucked her tongue and mixed together some kind of powder. She assured me it would ease his pain, and sold me a six-month dose. If Father Padrick could not afford more at that time, I could certainly buy it for him! What wonderful folk dwarves are! I have yet to meet one I do not care for dearly! They are friendly, and industrious, and full of helpfulness!

We hurried to the temple. I provided Brother Jhonas with the medicine and instructions as to its use, and donated ten percent of my share to the temple; over 27 gold pieces! Brother Jhonas' eyes widened at the gift, but I feel duty-bound to see this temple restored! I purified the fountains once again, and then went shopping with the cook, Mumsy Garrison, a surly human woman and a poor cook, but together she could spot spoiled food being sold at an extreme discount, and I could purify the food to make it edible again, vastly increasing the temple's ability to feed the poor. I bought new blankets and sheets, and saw to it that everything from the kitchen to the pigeon coops were in good working order. Finally, I visited Mika in the garden. In a sign that Sarenrae was truly pleased with me, I was able to make my halo manifest on him instead of myself. I showed him his haloed visage in a mirror, and told him what wonderful work he was doing on Sarenrae's behalf, and he started in on the garden with renewed vigor. Perhaps his gardening was a bit obsessive, and focused on fine details rather than the garden as a whole, but he was safe, he was doing good deeds, and he was no longer committing murder. A fine improvement!

After spending several hours setting the temple in order, we set off on my favorite task of the day: Having my dress adjusted by Alinza herself! We headed for the Silken Thread, and I must say, I was positively bouncing with anticipation! As we arrived, Neelan and Alinza doted over me once again, and Alinza quickly swept me off into a dressing room, stripped me down, put the dress on me, and made arcane marks and pins all over it. I told her the dress was perfect, but she assured me it would be better, and would be ready tomorrow. Tomorrow?!?!?! I had to give up my precious dress for an evening?!? Alinza assured me it would be all right, so I reluctantly returned to my armor and left my precious, precious dress with her for its adjustments.

The night passed uneventfully, though I did find myself thinking of Vorne more often than is proper for a friend...

Now I have both my greatsword AND my hammer.

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Greetings, appreciated readers!

As the GM of this venture, I thought I should pipe up... NobodysHome and UsePlanB both put me to utter shame as a poster! ;)

Second Darkness is my first foray into GMing Pathfinder, so hopefully things will not go too far astray, although so far so good if I do say so myself!

I know we have some very prolific posters in our party, and we also have some PCs who you will probably never see post! With that in mind, I thought a brief intro to our cast of heroes would be in order (and yes, there's a lot of them)!

Alderaan: Elf wizard; While classically trained in the art of magic, he utterly neglected the art of social skills. He knows for a fact that he is the only one smart enough to figure out the mystery of the Blot.

Aneurin: Half-elf fighter; not much is known about this mysterious fellow, save that he wields a blade with great skill and enthusiasm.

Carmen: Varisian rogue; Carmen has been working in Riddleport gambling halls for years, only recently employed at the Gold Goblin (now known as the Glorious Goblin). She is a fast-talking, tough-as-nails rake who will take your money and have you thanking her for doing so.

Leilani Silverfalls: Aasimar life oracle; raised on the Celestial Plane she is quite new to the Material Plane. Quite outspoken, she is frequently mistaken for an angel due to the large, beautiful wings she inherited from her mother. Sadly, they do not appear to function on this plane...

Lian: Half-elf rogue/bard; Lian is somewhat quiet and shy, although his recently acquired bardic skills have brought him out of his shell. He and Taleck have a history of working together.

Sansquah: Barbarian; Although Shoanti by culture, not much else is known of this mysterious character. He is by turns fierce, taciturn, and occasionally awkward. His visage and form are always hidden by a mask and a cloak. He has a new hammer.

Taleck: Shoanti barbarian; the younger brother of a barbarian from another campaign, he has a chip on his shoulder and something to prove. Having taken on the role of Leilani's bodyguard, he performs this duty with stern resolve. He usually works with Lian, watching out for him like a little brother of his own.

Vorne Gallowcast: Varisian wizard; Vorne was educated here and there, wandering at will, and yet, much to Alderaan's dismay, has picked up just as much facility with magic as a more formally-schooled mage. He has a propensity for spending gold with little care and is fascinated by the riddle of the Cyphergate and the Blot.

Zokrim: Fetchling ranger; Truly neutral at heart, Zokrim acts only according to his own whims. He is as mysterious as he is bloodthirsty, but seems of a mind to stay with the party... at least for now.

"Quite outspoken"!?!?!? Hrrumph!

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"L o v e l y w o n d r o u s b e a u t y, how do you fare so far from...home?(Eyes wide in amazement!) Please excuse my intrusion, but in passing I noticed you have...wings! I have only heard tell of the beautiful winged from the temple hymns, scriptures and parables of old? (Smiling with tears of joy!) If only time allowed, the many questions I would have you answer for your convenience, of course!"

Realizing the inordinate attention I have caused I wipe the tears away and giggle, "I see you have a host of brawny ruffians too! Oooooh and a PAIR of sneak-abouts, nice! Is the bard a musician? We could really work a tavern well together(Grin)...but only if it met with Ms.Carmen's approval!"

I wonder, would you consider trading a wizard from your troupe for one of our druids as we seem to have broken ours? That role had been filled to a minor degree by our ninja-witch. Sadly she was broken very recently as well! So as you can see we are in desperate need of an Arcanist!

I would linger and bask in the visage of your beauty, but I must away to my troupe in Sandpoint as much has yet to be accomplished and we seem to be on a terribly tight schedule. If ever you find yourselves traveling north along the Lost Coast Road to Sandpoint ask for Moxie. Perhaps there our troupes could swap tales and celebrate life. Fare the well GothBard Grapplers!

I am no clergy, just simple laity who would offer you the blessings of Shelyn, The Eternal Rose! May she smile on all your endeavors and see you all home safe again! I wish you and your troupe the best in your exploits!

(Deep scraping bow, bright smile, giggle and wave!!)

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Gentle Moxie (curtsy, spreading wings a bit for effect),
Welcome to our writings! Are you from Varisia, perhaps? Your notion of angels sounds much like Vorne's, of perfect creatures who do no wrong, and stray not from the path of the right and proper.
While I am good, I am no angel; I am a half-angel. I constantly appall Vorne with my behavior; I hope you are not similarly disappointed in me!
Our bard is just learning, but I enjoy his music immensely. Sarenrae is a great appreciator of music, and so am I. I would love to visit this Sandpoint at some point and hear you play. Is is near Riddleport? Even more importantly, is it nicer than Riddleport?
Finally, PLEASE take our elf! We would do well to be rid of him, and no druid could possibly be so obnoxious!
Do you have a dress? I have found the most wondrous place that sells silks of the greatest beauty. Perhaps we could shop there together at some point!

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OK, Moxie, you have SOOOOO tempted me yet again!

I'm a good 10,000 words ahead of the rest of the group (yes, I do love to type), with 3-4 more postings ready to go, so I am being very careful to post only once a week to let the rest of the group catch up (I hope). And yet sitting here is my introduction of "the elf" (Alderaan), in which I refer to him by all kinds of colorful names. And yet I will refrain for a week, so others in the party might post.

(And yes, in our Carrion Crown campaign we have a dwarven druid with a Charisma of 8, who is every bit as obnoxious as Alderaan, so that's a bit of an inside joke for those players.)

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Vorne Gallowscast, human wizard
I arrived at Riddleport to find that, unlike many towns I’d visited before, it was a pit. There seemed to be more beggars with hunger in their eyes, more shifty characters hanging out at the mouths of dark alleys, and in fact, more dark alleys! I swear it was hard to find a wide street to walk and feel safe. Though there were guards here or there none seemed interested in the goings on around them. This town was filled with villains, and in a rather strange juxtaposition apparently with mages?

My wanderings lead me first to a magic academy where I learned that they studied the large arch that spanned the harbor. It was called THE Cipher Gate; likely named for the runes that covered its surface and those who studied it were cipher mages. They were an academy strong in number and trying to figure out this gate… and they’d been at it some time with marginal success. It seemed that Riddleport was aptly named. First there was this blot thing I’d need to look into and then I’d work on that gate. Surely they could use my help. An outsider’s thoughts… an opinion of one distant from a problem could often spur one to look in a new direction with positive results. Alas, they would have to wait… first the blot, then the centuries old arch.

As evening drew near I felt a sudden need to find a place to stay. This wasn’t a town to wander at night, not as a fledgling wizard carrying a fortune in gold… A few inquiries later and I stumbled into the Golden Goblin. It was a fairly garishly decorated gambling establishment that was, as the hawkers proclaimed, due for a re-opening soon. After a brief conversation with Larur (he seemed to be in charge) I managed to procure a room, some food, and even a personal invitation to a gambling tournament that would take place quite soon. How could I refuse such hospitality! How could they refuse my gold? I settled in for a day or so and having taken care of my food and shelter turned my attention to The Blot.

The blot wasn’t much… (so little in fact that I down-graded it mentally from The Blot to “the blot”) a dark cloud that hung in the sky over the city. It looked like a whispy dark cloud; and that really summed it up. Yes, it was obviously un-natural… the circumstances around it smelled of magic, and there was certainly a mystery there; though not a really good one. I could immediately see why everyone turned to study it but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why they would continue. It took me only a few hours to determine that:

A.) The blot moved (sometimes against the wind)… and changed shape.
B.) It was boring… as it did NOTHING ELSE!

If all puzzles were to be as lackluster as this one I’d have to give up solving them and continue my travels! As luck would have it, the journey here was fairly long and my wanderlust was sated; at least for the time being. I might as well enjoy the Golden Goblin’s re-opening and spend a week or two seeing if anything changed. Perhaps the blot would do something under a full moon? Or when it rained! I could only begin to imagine the likes of the dark water that would fall from such a cloud and really I wasn’t one to give up quite so easily… well ok, I was; but I’d nothing really better to do here and this gambling tournament sounded great. Who wouldn’t want to try and “Cheat the Devil and take his gold”?

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Vorne Gallowscast, human wizard
Time at the Golden Goblin passed swiftly. During the first couple of days I was there I slept well, enjoyed a veritable bounty of food (well, compared to traveler’s rations), and met a goodly number of interesting people. I shall attempt to describe them, as best I can, so that in the future I might look back at this journal should I somehow manage to forget a name…

The first fellow I met was undoubtedly a Shoanti barbarian, tall… even mountain sized in comparison to most men. His dark skin was covered with tattoos and he was bereft of hair, at least so much as I could see. He called himself Taleck and he spoke well of his family (perhaps even jealously of his elder brother). I liked him immediately and realized that, should he be willing, he would make an excellent bodyguard in such a dangerous city as Riddleport. Though I was no expert on combat I was fairly sure that he would be deadly with the huge hammer of a weapon he carried; something he called an earth breaker. After a brief conversation I offered to employee him as my bodyguard and he accepted. A gold a day with a bonus should he defend me in combat seemed quite a fair price to pay. The only catch, a minor one at best, was that he had a friend who also needed some work. With that he introduced me to Lian.

Lian was a rather odd half-elf. He barely spoke ten words in our whole conversation and he smiled shyly quite a bit. I asked Taleck and he vouched for his combat skills. I, as no good judge of such things, took his word. He was my bodyguard after all and should he feel Lian was a good addition and be willing to fight alongside of him, so be it. I offered Lian the same employment, as my second bodyguard. He first looked to Taleck, who gave him a nod, and then he accepted. These two were obviously good friends and also good people to know. Surely Lian was a bit shy, but compared to the next fellow I met he was easy to understand!

Standing across from the bar was another large fellow and to be completely honest, I cannot even tell what race he was as he wore a mask that covered his face. In fact, he seemed to be dressed to obscure most of his features rather well. He said his name was Sans-Quah. I found this an odd name, not easily pronounced for me, and he had an accent I couldn’t place. He spoke slowly and carefully, as if common was not his first language, or really even one he used often at all. Given that and his name I assumed he was from some distant land, or even some other plane of existence. I know that the odds are he was just a human from Riddleport who’d never been all that sharp in school, but I love to give people the benefit of the doubt; especially when it makes them more exotic. I would surely have a great time speaking with him over the course of the next few days… that is, if he didn’t leave. Realizing I might lose the chance to speak with him (about things that were likely just imagined) I decided right off to ask him to also be a bodyguard. I had the gold to spare and it wouldn’t do me any good to have gold should I be dead and it stolen. Moments later he too accepted the same deal; a gold piece a day with a bonus should he have to fight on my behalf. And thus, Sans-Quah became my third and last guard.

I met others throughout the course of the day, but as they were all already employed I didn’t feel the need to offer to hire them as guards.

Carmen was a nice looking woman who worked for the Golden Goblin running a few of the different games of chance. She seemed friendly enough but was all business and didn’t seem to want to spend too much time chatting. I suppose that is to be expected as she was helping prepare for the big gambling tournament scheduled for that eve. One thing I will say, I couldn’t tell for sure if the horns that peeked through her hair were hers or part of the costume...

Lastly I met Zokrim, a shadow man. He somehow ended up here from the Shadow plane and he mentioned that he was in Riddleport looking to investigate the blot. I told him that I was also and perhaps we could compare notes at some point. He nodded but didn’t seem all that interested so I didn’t press the matter. I found him somewhat disconcerting as he seemed to be constantly present at the Golden Goblin but I couldn’t for the life of me keep an eye on him most of the time.

As it turned out hiring body guards was a good thing as that very evening we ended up in a combat the likes of which I’d never before seen!

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I am Taleck of the Lyrune-Quah.

My life has been a simple one, though not one without events of note. Following the animals we hunted and visiting the places Sacred to our people since time of Legend.

A good life, but listening to the tales told by those who had left the Cinderlands, including my older brother Haleck who had the honor of serving the Elder Tolmar-Kai, I learned the world was much larger than I had imagined in my early youth.

When I came of age I sought my Father's permission to leave the Quah. I told him I wished to follow the teachings of Desna and journey the world, and I wanted to see all the wonders I had heard about for myself. I still remember his slight smile when he gave his Blessing, and the pang in my heart that mother was not there to add her's.

I left the next day with a caravan of Varisians as one of their guards. Since then I have traveled the lands of Golarion, building my skill as a warrior and seeking out the distant and dangerous places to do Honor to Desna. It has been almost four years and I have been able to return home a few time since then but the last time was almost two years ago.

I recently heard in my travels that there was much work to be had in Riddleport for a traveling warrior such as I. So I made my way here about a month ago. The work was not the only reason I came. The arch, the "Cypher Gate" to the mages, built by the ancients, the "Thasalonians" as they are called in common, also drew me here. I remember the legends of my people, the whispered mentions of the Great Powers that once ruled the lands, and how their power still lingers in places and artifacts.

It was easy to find work in Riddleport. Many of the mages and others of learning who come here hire bodyguards to protect them from those who would prey on them while traveling within the city at night. During one of my first jobs here I met Lian, a quite half Elf rouge also working as a bodyguard for another mage at the time.

We worked well together and have been a team since. I am the obvious bodyguard the thugs go after while he watches and strikes from the shadows. Few who have been foolish enough to try and rob one of our employers have survived, none have succeed. We are a good team and I have been staying at his place since. It is small but the floors are hard so I sleep very well. Never had much use for the “beds” that others use. Soft fluffy things. If the Gods had wanted us to sleep on soft things the ground itself would be soft. I do not hold it against Lian that he likes his bed, to each their own.

After The Blot appeared many more have been coming to Riddleport to study it and the Arch. If nothing else it has ensured that work is plentiful.

Lian and I attended a talk by a Cypher Mage about one of the markings on the gate. The Mages who attend will often want someone to escort them home after wards, they forget how the nature of the city becomes more dangerous the further into the night one goes. And sometimes the talks are fun to listen to. They remind me of the rantings of those who chewed on the roots my mother warned me about. This one was not fun. It was difficult to stay awake.

While waiting after the lecture for our latest charge to wrap up his talk with another mage about the meaning of the “curl in the upper corner”, Lian mentioned he had heard “The Gold Goblin”, another of the gambling places in town, was having an event the next night that was sure to involve lots of people, even more money and lots of opportunities for work. After getting the mage back to his inn Lian and I discussed the situation and agreed we would go to the Gold Goblin for the event and see what happened. If nothing else I felt it would probably be more interesting than the “curl in the upper corner” the mage had muttered about all the way to his room.

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Leilani Silverfalls, aasimar Life Oracle
(Journal from July 27 game and additional out-of-game interactions)

Player Notes:
- I realize that Leilani is still way ahead of the other posters, but even at one post a week it's going to take her a couple of months to catch up with the campaign, so I figure she'll start forging ahead every Friday, cluelessly ignoring her fellow posters. Leilani? Cluelessly forging ahead?!? NEVER!!
- This session introduces two new players: Alderan and Aleurin, though Leilani was not impressed with either of them...

The next morning I found Larur again, dutifully waiting for me with his ladder, ready to stand by as I greeted the sun and to wait patiently for me to come down from the roof when I was done. Once again, I was overcome with affection for this kind and patient dwarf. Once again, I reached up, plucked a pinion, winced at the pain, stanched the blood with a touch, and approached him.
"Larur, in my time here you have been a most loyal friend to me. You have helped me to ascend to the roof every morning for my prayers, and you have guarded me without complaint for those many hours. When I was in need of medicine, you directed me to your aunt, who helped me greatly. I would appreciate if you would take this as a token of our friendship."

I handed Larur the feather, and, as he sputtered and stuttered, I embraced him with my arms and my wings, and kissed him on the top of his bristly head. He turned redder than any human, dwarf, or angel I have ever seen, and muttered a barely-audible but heart-moving thanks. I smiled warmly at him and ascended for my prayers. With friends like Vorne, Larur, Taleck, and Lian, this plane is really not so bad after all!

Later in the morning, Saul called us in, and informed us that the Glorious Goblin had done well for its first week, and we had all earned 10 gold pieces! I am really becoming confused as to the value of gold; for the poor or the temples, a handful of gold seems a fortune. Yet for our group, we receive a handful of gold every week for doing what seems like very easy work. Perhaps being on guard all the time like Taleck and Sans Quah is more difficult than greeting the many guests who come to the Goblin. Ah, well. The gold will help the temple, and Vorne has me saving the lion's share for myself to purchase better armor and equipment, in case it is later needed.
Once we were done with Saul, I gathered Vorne, Taleck, and Lian and returned to the Silken Thread for my dress. Alinza took me into the dressing room again, put it on me, declared it beautiful, and wrapped it up again for me. I hate to admit it, for I am no expert in clothing, but I could not tell that she had done anything at all to it! I am sure those more familiar with the intricacies of such things would have declared her adjustments exemplary!

The afternoon passed quickly, and soon I found myself at the front door of the Glorious Goblin once again, greeting guests, offering them water, and pointing them to the bar and the gaming tables. The first two or three hours passed unremarkably, and then HE arrived.
As the drunken clot of ruffians started staggering in, obviously together, obviously looking for trouble, and staring at me in a hungry, disquieting way, I involuntarily took a step back. Sensing my disquiet, Taleck stepped forward behind me, and my nerves settled as I heard his earthbreaker slide into his massive hands. I knew that Lian must be close at hand as well; where Taleck goes, Lian follows, though his footsteps are usually too soft to hear. Reassured, I straightened my shoulders, stood tall, and allowed my wings to spread slightly. One of the ruffians called out, "There she is, Alderan! What is she?"

HE stepped forward. The most soulless, unfeeling, disturbing, disquieting creature I have ever had the misfortune to meet. He claims to be an elf, though the half-elves I've met are all grace and charm, or silent loyalty like Lian, so any relationship they have with this maladjusted creature is tenuous at best. His loose robes and sense of power identified him as some sort of mage, so my eyes immediately sought Vorne's. Bless his soul, although he was across the room, he somehow sensed my distress and was watching the proceedings intently. Alderan did not bother to greet me or acknowledge my existence in any way. He examined me like a specimen; some bug on a slide he would like to dissect. I boldly stood my ground, confident that Taleck and Lian could protect me long enough for Sans Quah, Vorne, and possibly Zokrim to arrive, though the shadow man had taken to vanishing for hours at a time, I know not where.
The cursed elf started reaching for a wing, obviously to pluck a feather! I called out in Celestial, "Vorne, prepare to shoot this creature!"
The elf's hand froze, almost as if he understood my native tongue. He finally deigned to speak to me in Common. His cold eyes met mine, and he asked, "May I?"
Taleck did not understand my words, but he understood the elf's gesture. He stepped up, brushing against my wing. His solid mass was most reassuring. The elf retracted his hand and turned to the gathered ruffians.

"I do not know whether this will settle your argument, gentlemen, for you are all wrong. She is not a full-blooded angel. She is mortal. But she does have angelic blood. We call these creatures 'aasimar'. So she is neither a fake, nor a full angel. She is a mortal aasimar."
Some of the ruffians rejoiced; others were surly. There had apparently been some kind of bet as to my nature, and they had brought in the Soulless One to evaluate me! What insult! Fortunately, the resolution of their question and the massive bulk of Taleck convinced them to move to the bar, including the elf. Only one man remained; a fighter by the looks of him, and he paused to look at me, Taleck, and Lian before moving on to the bar himself, though he distanced himself from the others. He was clearly not part of the group. A hound for the elf? For the ruffians? Well, I was no threat to any of them, so I had some faith that that particular hound was not a threat to me.

There were no other incidents of note that night, but as I started up the stairs, I saw the elf and the strange hound talking to Larur. No! It could not be! Larur could not be thinking of hiring them! I hurried upstairs to my room, but did not sleep, waiting instead to hear Vorne's familiar footsteps so I could find out what was happening. When he arrived, he explained that Larur felt a second wizard would be useful, particularly because the elf was also studying the blot, and he and Vorne might compare notes. And where was the elf staying? In this building!?!!? Intolerable! The hound was just that; another fighter looking for a place to work and stay. I had far fewer reservations about him; his name was Aneurin, and he was just a fighter-for-hire. He would protect me for money, just as Sans Quah and the other employees of the Goblin did. I did not mind extra protection at all. But the elf! What to do about the elf? He would be loose! At night! In my building! And though my door locked, I knew that wizards could open locked doors with a very simple spell!

The solution came to me in a flash: Vorne was a wizard, so he could protect me. He was not interested in courtship with me. And I had the spare bed in my room, as I slept in my nest! I rolled it over in my mind to make sure it met all the requirements that propriety dictated, and I could see no issues. I immediately proposed the idea to Vorne: For as long as the elf was residing in the Glorious Goblin, I would prefer that he sleep in my room, to protect me in case the elf came to steal my wings at night. Vorne agreed with a great deal more enthusiasm than I had expected, and I helped him gather his things from his room and move them into mine.

As we settled in, he dutifully turned his back so I could preen and bathe, and he continued his incessant querying as to my relationships on the Celestial plane, the nature of Celestial courtships, and the fact that I was over 100 years old. He was also interested in the plane itself, and the differences between Heaven, Nirvana, and Elyssium. He asked at length about the rules of the various regions, and whether such rules were enforced in other regions, constantly returning to the question of the rules of courtship. He is a most delightfully engaging fellow when his mind is working on understanding an issue! We spoke at such length that I was settled into my nest, and he the bed, by the time he worked the conversation back around to the topic of greatest interest to him. He started hinting that he was not as opposed to our courtship as I had assumed, and stated that, if we were to begin courting, he would follow my rules out of respect for me, but not out of respect for any other authority. And he would try to follow them, though he could not guarantee he would do as well as might be considered proper. It was as heartfelt from him as it was flattering to me!
I became freer with him, and teased him a bit about the joys of courtship, at which point he admitted he had never been with a woman. I reassured him that this was true of all men at some point in their lives, and was nothing to be ashamed of, and finally, he got up, walked over, and ASKED ME TO COURT HIM!!

I said, "Yes," instantly, of course! And I did not squeak! But I did inform him that courting couples could not spend the night together in the same room, and he almost called off the courtship then and there! He is such a dear! I reassured him that I was kidding. And then we did what I had been aching to do with someone for my entire week on this plane: I had him wash and preen the lower backs of my wings, where I could not reach! Aaaah, it felt so good to get the dirt, grease, and who-knows-what-else of Riddleport finally off my back! It is good to be courted! Especially by a man who does not consider preening another's wings to be beneath his dignity! Once my wings were properly cleaned for the first time on this plane, I returned to my nest, and he his bed, and we slept peacefully, and were not disturbed by the elf.

The next day passed as if in a dream; as we wandered Riddleport to advertise the Goblin and check on the temple, Vorne (with some gentle prodding) took my arm gracefully, and wore my feather proudly. I am afraid he still needs some lessons on the finer points of courtship; he completely neglected to give me a favor of his to wear, and I cannot wear The Dress while wandering Riddleport lest I ruin its lower reaches. For a moment I pondered having Taleck carry me about, but concluded that it would be a bit too undignified for both of us, even in The Dress.
That evening found Larur in quite a state yet again. For such a gentle soul, he seems quite excitable. Sitting peacefully at one of our gambling tables, enjoying some sort of beverage, was a man Larur identified as Clegg Zincher, apparently an old enemy of Saul's. Larur was so concerned about this development that we took pity on him, and a few of the hounds and I approached Mr. Zincher. He was courteous enough, and insisted he did not want any trouble, but was simply ascertaining for himself how well the Goblin's grand reopening was proceeding. I could not find fault with his reasoning nor his manners, so I returned to my post at the door. Other employees were a bit more vehement in their desire to see him gone, but that was not my decision to make, and Larur apparently let cooler heads prevail. Sure enough, after an hour or two of quiet consideration, Mr. Zincher left the establishment peacefully.

A few minutes later, there was a scream from the kitchen! The hounds, Vorne, the elf, and I raced to see the issue. A pair of enormous red and black snakes had gotten loose, two staff members were unconscious on the ground, and it seemed the snakes planned to turn the tables on their would-be devourers! I know that my nature is delicate, and my diet on the Celestial Plane quite tame, but I must say I do not understand the desire of humans to consume things that would consume them in turn; I would hate to be a chef who had to battle daily for his very existence with every meal! At a later time I learned that the snakes were indeed not on the menu, but rather unwelcome interlopers, but I write my thoughts as best as I recall them from earlier this evening.
As the hounds and our wizards closed in, I channeled healing energies to help the staff. It woke them enough that they managed to flee as the snakes engaged the hounds. The elf, further bringing his competence as a wizard into doubt, rushed so far forwards that one of the snakes engaged him and bit him severely! Holding my metaphorical nose, I healed him along with the other hounds who were bitten; there is nothing to be gained in pettiness during battle, when he has done nothing (yet) to deserve it. Unfortunately, he was poisoned as well, and my magics do not help to heal such damage. I would have taken some relief in his weakened state, save I knew wizards did not need their strength for their spellcasting.

Once the snakes were dispatched, Taleck and Sans Quah expressed delight; apparently the intruders were a pair of "cindersnakes", and their smoked and preserved meat is considered quite a delicacy among the Shoanti. I will admit to some curiosity, and once they have prepared the meat I will try it, though I have some concern: If they dry and smoke the meat as they describe, and then I purify it, will it return to its original state of rawness? I suppose I will find out once their preparations are complete.
Those better trained than I searched the room for some indication as to how the snakes got in, while I ensured that all the hounds, wizards, and employees were healed to the best of my ability. They found a tub that had contained the snakes, and it contained an anonymous note: "Looking to go two for two Saul? Close up, get out of town, and you'll be fine."
Neither Saul nor Larur felt inclined to enlighten us as to what the note meant, though some of the hounds opined that the threat might be aimed at Saul's other hand (he is missing one). Most of the group was sure that the note was from none other than Mr. Zincher, and I could not disagree with them, but with no proof, neither could we confront him. With such a threat hovering over our heads, Vorne's presence in my bedroom that night was even more welcome, and as I bathed and preened (with his back politely turned, of course, except when he needed to scrub the lower backs of my wings), we discussed how we must be extremely vigilant, keep our door and windows locked, and protect each other.

With Vorne; no, with my suitor sleeping nearby, ready to protect me at a moment's notice, I drifted off to sleep in my nest, and slept peacefully and soundly through the night. It has been over a decade since my last suitor; I find being courted suits me very well indeed.

Ahem. My gentle companions have complained most vociferously that I posted ahead of them. Again. I have been ordered not to post again until September 20.

I suppose I can wait until then. I wonder what Vorne is up to at the moment...

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EGADS!! To be treated so, and by your own troupe?!? I guess I shouldn't tempt you, but I simply can't resist! (giggle) I apologize to have presumed so much, but you are, in my experience of Varisia, a rarity to say the least! Not to mention you are at least a half-blood of divine nature and quality and that, in and of itself, IS special, at least to me. (smiling taking your hands in mine) Do not concern yourself with my opinion of you, for in as much as I know you, you have conducted yourself in an exemplary manner in comparison to the scoundrels of my troupe! You are a fair and gentle host, you can be nothing else, that is apparent.

As to Sandpoint, it is no great city with paved roads, or great temples. It is a lively agricultural and fishing community many leagues south from here along the coast. It is quaint and mostly provincial, just the way I like it. There is however, a theater, and the Rusty Dragon Inn where I reside and occasionally perform. You should bring your bard to help our cleric of Desna, who with some prodding has become quite an accompanist! Oh, and of course your suitor. I know it bad of me, but I envy you, your suitor. There are scant few, would be suitors in my circle and while at times it is a blessing, at others...well you know.

You had mentioned a dress shop! Yes, shopping is always good, as long as you let me treat you for being my guide. (Grin!) By all means, lead the way! (clapping, giggling, and a squeak!)

Ah, Moxie! Is it not the nature of men on every plane to demand their say, and then say nothing? I would not accuse Carmen of such a thing; she spends her time lashing her wit at the rowdy patrons of the Goblin, and cannot spare time for journals. As for the others...

Sandpoint sounds wonderful! Any place not beset by villains and vagabonds sounds like an improvement over Riddleport! And roads are overrated. They hurt the feet! And a theater! How I would love to go to a theater!

Oops! Am I in violation of my promise not to post until the 20th? I think not; I agreed not to post anything from my journal, and this is simple sociability, I'm sure!

As for Vorne, I am still vexed with him for not coming to me following his sore wounding, but time softens all such feelings. Ah, but now I know that I am posting ahead! I will not get to write of such things until the 20th. I think I shall visit Sandpoint in the meantime...

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Oh, this is where Moxie has been hiding. Shame on you NobodysHome for encouraging her to stray.

By all means Leilani stop by and go shopping with Moxie and in the evening hours we can entertain the patrons of The Rusty Dragon with song and dance. It would be nice to have a "Lady" around. quick wink and a grin to Moxie.

Way to go fellow "Journalists" keep up the good work.

LOL. Every GM tries to steal Moxie onto their threads; I'm just the first one charming (or obnoxious(??)) enough to succeed!! :-P

And I'm afraid Useplanb's thread is too busy for Leilani to keep visiting; he passed my RotRL post count some time ago so I've got to stop posting on his and start catching up on mine...

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Note: Dictated by Lian's player, who is 9. I love it when kids can tell good stories!

My name is Lian. I was born in Korvosa. My parents were poor, but as I reached adulthood they got jobs in another city and moved away. I, on the other hand, moved to Riddleport to get a job as a bodyguard. I heard that Riddleport was a city with lots of crime and lots of gambling, so it sounded perfect for a bodyguard.

While I was doing one of my jobs, I met a Shoanti barbarian named Taleck. I learned that we made a good team together. He took all the hits and I backstabbed. After a while, I got enough money to get my own apartment. By this time, me and Taleck were working together, so he moved into my apartment and slept on the floor. He slept on the floor because apparently he thinks it's comfortable, and so I just took the bed.

After a while, we heard about an event called something like "Cheat the Devil out of his Gold" at a place called the Gold Goblin, and it was a big gambling event. Me and Taleck went there and it was a big event, there was lots of gambling going on, there was a roulette table that I kept on hearing insults from from an undead thing on the wheel.

We met a fellow named Vorne, and he wanted us to bodyguard him. He said he'd pay us a gold a day, so we took the job. We followed him as he wandered around, playing some gambling games, getting drunk, and so on. We found out that he must be pretty rich, or he gambled a lot, because he hired another bodyguard named Sans-Quah. Sans-Quah hides behind a mask, so you can never see his true face.

After a while of following Vorne around, I saw something roll in from the door, and then a big flash appeared. I was able to cover my eyes in time, but I saw Taleck staggering around. Sans-Quah seemed OK. I was confused until I saw a group of people rushing in towards the pile of gold that was the reward for winning the tournament. I started getting low to get ready to backstab anyone if they came near my employer, Vorne. As I peeked out, I saw a few people, including a grey-skinned man, a few other bodyguards, and Sans-Quah go into battle with the robbers. I looked to see if our employer was OK, but just as I looked at him, I saw a purple burst of magic fly towards the robbers, one of whom looked like a mage. I was surprised that our employer had magic, but at the time I didn't really care. A lady in a top hat who I think worked for the Gold Goblin fired a few shots at the robbers.
I saw the enemy mage start casting up a spell and looking at Vorne, but then, out of nowhere, a girl with wings and dressed in white silk fell down onto the mage and disturbed his spell. By this time, a few of the robbers were running away. I was able to throw my knife at one of them, but the woman robber cast a spell that turned the treasure into a carpet. I'm not sure what kind of spell that was, but either way, I was surprised. As she started rolling it up, I saw Sans-Quah run over and cut her down. Since I never really studied Sans-Quah, it wasn't until this moment that I realized he was also a barbarian.
I saw one of the men start pulling on the winged girl's wing, and he managed to pull her off their mage. I saw the same man that pulled her off put a knife to her throat. Almost immediately, the woman said something in a tongue that I didn't know. And then the man let go. After the angel was ungrabbable, they had no hostages, and their men were at low health, the men surrendered.

After we had taken the robbers prisoner, a man, who looked like he was the owner of the place, thanked us. By this time, pretty much all of the civilians and some of the employees were gone. The man wanted to talk to us, so I just came along, since Vorne was going with him. He started thanking us for saving his establishment, and asked us if we wanted a job. Me and Taleck said, "Yes," the grey-skinned man said, "Yes," Sans-Quah said, "Yes," and the winged woman said, "Yes," and Vorne said, "Yes."

So we are all now working for Saul Venkaskerkin and the Gold Goblin, that he has renamed the Glorious Goblin in honor of the winged woman.

And leave it to the quietest of us all to prove the oracle wrong!

Thank you, Lian, for not leaving me alone in my hour of need (or at least my embarrassing lack of party members on this thread)! I knew I could count on you!

Now where is that darned Taleck?

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Nicely done. And only nine. We welcome the next generation. Keep dictating. Your view of the story is awesome.

I am but a humble servant of Desna but the news of your adventure has reached far. My home is in Sandpoint if you're ever near feel free to stop in and stay at the Rusty Dragon. The food is wonderful and the people are friendly. May the road always rise up to meet you.

I showed your post to the youngling, and you got a HUGE smile! You are indeed chosen of Desna!

EDIT: Yes, I should give fair warning that Zokrim and Lian are my kids (12 and 9), the infamous "goblins of Sandpoint (and elsewhere)". So if Lian and Zokrim seem a bit... eccentric, it's only natural! After all, they were goblins in a previous life!

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WOW! Nicely done indeed Master Lian!! The tradition of story telling is a gift and an art. I encourage you to embrace your gift and pursue it as you explore the beauty the world has to offer. You show promise!

(Curtsy, smile, wave!)

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Lian, half-elf rogue/bard

After a few days, I found out most of my companions' names.
Taleck is my friend, a Shoanti barbarian. We work very well together.
Zokrim is a dark grey-skinned man, so I haven't learned much about him.
Vorne is the man I am bodyguarding right now. He has been paying us a gold piece a day, so we will stay with him until he stops.
Sans-Quah is another bodyguard for Vorne. He is another barbarian like Taleck.
Leilani appears to be a celestial angel, and she is a very good healer.
Carmen is an employee at the newly-named Glorious Goblin. I can't tell what she specializes in; I just know she works for the place.

After another seemingly-normal day at the Glorioous Goblin, Leilani gathered us and told us that a man had stolen some gold from the Glorious Goblin. She said that he was camped at an old temple in Riddleport. We went over there. At first I tried to stealth in, but while I was sneaking in, I noticed a man with a crossbow pointing it at me. I then backed away and tried to take a new approach. This time I took the same stealthing plan, but I found footprints leading to the back. I followed the footprints, which led to a tree. As I climbed up the tree, I found a hidden chest thingy full of coins and equipment. I continued to climb up, and I found a balcony. I climbed into it and no one was there. I came out of stealth and signalled the all-clear, and the rest of the party came up.

Once we were all up there, we noticed that there were a lot of pigeon cages lying around. I'm not sure what they were for, but when we went inside we found a sleeping man. We took him prisoner and woke him. He was the man that was taking care of the pigeons. After a few minutes of talking with him, we learned that he was blind, and he didn't think the people we were looking for were bad. I was not sure how he didn't know they were bad. We continued through the next door. We went into a hallway and heard talking behind the next door. I went down the hallway to see whether there was a back way that might allow the people inside to come at us from behind. We opened the door and the people inside attacked us, so there was a big fight.
While I was in the back, two doors opened. They unleashed four people, one of whom was a half-orc. He hit me and knocked me to zero hit points in a single blow and they moved on. Leilani healed us and I could get back up. When the combat with the others was done, I got out of the way. Taleck and Zokrim rushed past me and got into combat with them. Vorne cast Grease and they fell down. At that moment, I noticed that there was an open door that two of them had come out of. It had a ring with two scorpions in the middle battling. Taleck and Zokrim tried to rush in, and they fell on the grease too, so there were four guys rolling around in the grease like lemmings while the scorpions sat there trying to sting them.
The rest of us all went at the ones in the door because the ones in the Grease didn't do much. We were able to take them out, and when we looked back at the greasy place, they were still flopping around like lemmings. After Zokrim managed to shield bash the scorpions a couple of times, we eventually won.

We didn't find the leader, so we set up an ambush for him for that evening. During the ambush, while Leilani, Vorne, and Taleck fought the bad guy, me and Zokrim chased the other two guys upstairs and beat them up. I heard footsteps coming up, so I did what any rogue would do: I stealthed. But soon I realized it was just Taleck, and we came downstairs.

We took all their stuff, sold it, and split up the gold.

Sounds dangerous Lian, you should be careful but it sounds like you have great friends. You keep being a good sneak about and you will make them all proud. Your friend from Sandpoint, Xandu.

P.S. The name "Lint" came from my first sneak-about. I called him Lint because he could always be found in your pocket. Sneak-abouts are grand fun to play.

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Leilani Silverfalls, aasimar Life Oracle
(Journal from August 10 game and subsequent out-of-game interactions)

As I write these words, bitter tears stain my cheeks and drip onto the parchment. My friend Larur is no more, cut down in the streets for a few handfuls of shiny metal. My hounds and I have few ideas as to his killers; we know that several of the crime lords of Riddleport may have been involved, but we know not which one or ones, nor how to even start finding out. Our only hope is that the crime lord named Boss Croat, who seems to have been framed for this murder, may be willing to provide us with more information. Almost as painful to me is the fact that Vorne was sorely wounded by the elf, yet did not come to me for aid; had the elf continued his attack, Vorne would be dead and I would be mourning an even more dear friend. Perhaps even a love. No; I dare not say that yet; we have only just started our courtship. But Vorne has been healed and chastised and is sleeping soundly and safely here in my room, and I get ahead of myself yet again. I will continue my tale the night before Larur's murder.

Now that our intrepid group seemed to be up to nine stalwart individuals (yes, this includes the elf, much to my dismay), I realized that my own healing powers might not be enough to keep all of them in fighting trim. Fortunately, I am familiar with wands, scrolls, elixirs, and other magical devices of this plane, so I again approached the temple of Calistria for assistance. While they look at me with some disdain, they are shrewd businesswomen, and agreed to sell me a healing wand for 750 gold pieces. Vorne assured me that this was a fair price for such a wand, so I gathered funds from all of us who had freed the temple, and obtained the wand. Having enough healing for our entire group raised my spirits immensely; nothing could possibly be sadder than watching an ally die for lack of a simple healing spell.

As our second week working for Saul drew to a close, he counted his week's take. Apparently, it was terrible; not only could he not pay us any bonuses, but he could only afford half the amount he had promised us. This was of no great concern to me; I still had quite a stockpile of gold from selling the brigand's gear, even subtracting the cost of the wand, but it caused others in the party no small amount of consternation. Hopefully we can attract a better crowd next week!

Larur continued to hire new staff to replace those we had lost after the incident with the robbers. New girls in angel outfits roamed the floors, Carmen barked orders at new croupiers (I hope that is the correct term; I really do not know what it is that Carmen does, but she seems very good at it), and we even had a young wizardess (wizard? I must ask her what she prefers to be called) named Samaritha ask for a job of "something other than wearing a skimpy outfit and carrying a big tray". Carmen lit into her with her usual lack of enthusiasm for new girls, and Sans Quah gave her the bull's rush into Larur's, but apparently she persevered and received a job as an assistant bartender. I will not excuse my rudeness to her for the first two days, but they were very stressful times. I do wish to emphasize that, much like Vorne, she is kind, and generous, and a wonderful confidante with great insight into relationships on the Material plane. I must confess, she and I have grown very close in a very short time. Are all human wizards so charming? Is it only the elf who is a donkey's posterior? No; the cypher mages are similarly full of themselves. It must be the formal training that twists them so. But I digress yet again. I think it is Vorne's sore wounding and the soft sounds of his snores behind me that distract me so.

While my writings have become scarcer during Vorne's courtship of me, some incidents of note occurred. Sans Quah and Taleck completed their preparation of the cindernsnake, and I must admit, it was quite tasty, though a bit chewy and smoky for my delicate palate. On my 14th day on this plane, my first pinion feather to shed itself naturally did so. It was a paltry feather, from nearly the end of one of my wings, but it was also the first pinion feather I'd lost, and hence held special significance. There was no question as to who would receive it. I approached Taleck. "Taleck, in my time here on this plane, you have been my bastion; my stalwart; my hound-of-hounds; my rock. Nothing has stirred you from your post at my back, and nothing has harmed me save a few insidious stirges. You are a hound among pups. And as such, you must receive the first of my feathers to fall on this plane. Wear it proudly; as I am proud to call you my hound, and am overjoyed that you have chosen to protect me."
Taleck seemed moved by the speech, though I still have trouble reading both him and Sans Quah; apparently the Shoanti are very reserved in expressing their emotions. He did start wearing my feather proudly, which filled my heart with pride and joy. There are few things that move one more than a loyal hound, willing to sacrifice his life at a moment's notice to protect you. Taleck will not die on my watch; that is a vow I do not take lightly, but one I plan to enforce with a vengeance.

That evening also presented our first new phenomenon from the blot: All of the magnetic metal in the city became magnetized. My mother's jewelry was unaffected, but I believe it is of platinum, not steel. Needless to say, the elf became very excited, abandoned his post, and apparently travelled about the city, trying to determine in which way all the metal was drawn. What a fickle creature, to agree to do a job and then abandon his post so quickly to sate his own interests! The more I knew of him, the less I cared for him.

I wish I could say that something else unusual happened that night; something that could have warned me of the tragedy that was to come, but it was a very normal night. We closed the Glorious Goblin, Vorne helped me wash my wings, and he retired to bed and I my nest. Nothing told me that my dear friend Larur was heading out to breathe his last. I did not know, could NOT have known, but I still feel the guilt sharp within me. I am an Oracle. Could I not have predicted my dear friend's demise, and somehow prevented it?
Alas; I slept through the night soundly, and did not know that anything was amiss until I arose in the morning for my usual rituals and Larur did not greet me with his gruff demeanor and his ladder. The other staff members informed me that he had not been seen since he went off to deliver a fairly large payment of gold to a loan shark by the name of Limus Smeed.

The next two hours were agony, as I waited for the sun to rise and wake my companions. Finally, group assembled, we went in search of Larur. Had his aunt seen him? No! Was he at his home? No! And his home had been clumsily ransacked, as if someone were searching for something. We proceeded to Rat Street Loans, home of one Limus Smeed. When Taleck and Lian confided that word on the streets was that Smeed worked for Zincher, I feared the worst.
As we approached, the Accursed Elf spotted something in a rubbish bin, and my worst fears were confirmed. Larur's cloak lay there, bloodied and shredded, my feather (now bloodstained) proudly pinned to the front, identifying the cloak beyond all doubt.

SOME party members (I will not name them, for fear of shaming them) opined that perhaps Larur had tired of his employ with Saul, and had made off with the gold and faked his own death. Being far more familiar with the dear, sweet dwarf, I knew these accusations to be untrue, and remained silent, hoping the evidence would convince them otherwise, yet dreading where that evidence would inevitably lead.

Having seen the state of Larur's cloak, I made my decision: I told my hounds that none inside deserved mercy, and they were to send them to early graves, salt the earth over them, and leave their souls wandering the Eternal Frontier in search of guidance from Pharasma. Those who had killed my wonderful Larur deserved no less!
We proceeded inside, only to be assaulted by a deranged ape. Much to my chagrin, my hounds performed poorly against this ape, and a great deal of my healing was used up keeping them upright against this "foe". They were eventually victorious, and pursued Mr. Smeed and his colleagues through numerous doors until his eventual surrender.
His story told us much. He did not work for Mr. Zincher, but "Boss Croat", another crime lord in Riddleport. He knew nothing of Larur's payment, other than that it had not arrived. He was concerned for his ape, but I had stabilized it and it would recover. It quickly became clear that someone had set up Boss Croat to take the blame for this abomination, when he was innocent of any crime other than being a crime lord in Riddleport. We eventually apologized to Mr. Smeed, provided him with some small amount of healing, released him on his own recognizance, and returned ourselves to the Glorious Goblin to discuss what had occurred.

To my great shame, our first suspect was Samaritha; she had arrived at the Glorious Goblin just before Larur's demise, and few knew of his movements save those in his employ. She was nonplussed at her questioning, to say the least, but we learned nothing from her save that she seemed to know nothing. We tried to question the other remaining long-term employees (Bojask, Hans, and Bayar), but got nowhere with them, either. Frustrated and befuddled, we decided to focus our efforts on keeping the Glorious Goblin running.
Much to my surprise, Saul came down and named me "floor manager" in Larur's absence. I insisted that I had no concept of what a floor manager was supposed to do, but Saul reassured me that a floor manager's job was to be friendly and hospitable, and get along with all the staff. I could at least do that much, so with heavy heart I accepted Larur's position at the Goblin. I knew that Carmen would support me in my efforts, and as I learned my duties I would perform them to the best of my abilities. Perhaps this was all that Saul needed at the moment.

Unfortunately, my first night as floor manager proved less-than-ideal. As the evening progressed, the blot manifested its bizarre influence once again, and every spell cast, whether arcane or divine, created a purple mist that hovered around the area of the casting for a few moments, and then moved off towards the cloud. Needless to say, Vorne, the elf, and Samaritha were fascinated by this phenomenon, and yet again the elf abandoned his post to explore the extent of the mystery. After some time, all we could determine was that both divine and arcane spells were affected, and the duration of the mist had little to do with the duration of the spell; every spell from instantaneous to minutes-long produced the same purple mist, and the mist dispersed upwards at the same rate every time. As Vorne and the elf discussed the phenomenon at length, I had to go to the floor to check on Carmen, Samaritha, and my other employees.
I do not know what passed next. Vorne will not discuss the subject in any useful manner, and I will not approach the elf under any circumstances, save to demand his apology. Apparently Vorne and the elf agreed that a test of dispelling magics was in order, and both agreed to cast magic missiles at the other. What great tomfoolery is this I do not know, but I do know that Vorne was skilled enough to avoid shooting the elf, while the elf, through incompetence or sheet spite, shot Vorne in the chest, striking him hard enough to break a rib and expose the bones therein!
Worse still, Vorne, sorely wounded and badly in need of aid, DID NOT SEEK ME! I heard the commotion, and rumors that one had been sorely wounded, only to rush forth, and find that it was MY Vorne who was the victim! I healed him immediately, and demanded to know why he did not come to me, and he told me that he did not think the wound significant enough to bother me with. Significant enough?!?!? His rib was showing, for Sarenrae's sake! I decided that he and I would have strong words when we retired.

As for the elf, no words could express my rage for him. Had I the power, I would have dismissed him on the spot. Saul forbade it, citing the elf's worth in investigating the blot, and suggested that perhaps the elf should "make himself scarce in my company" for a while. I must say, I did not miss him in the least!

As I retired upstairs, despondent and seething, I found that my things had been moved. What outrage! A few questions later, I learned that I had earned the floor manager's suite, a far larger room with a large feather bed. This was a bed I could sleep in! Yet I still wanted Vorne's company, especially after the events of the evening, but there was nowhere for him to sleep! Fortunately, I recalled the traditions of our travelling warriors. I asked Vorne whether he had a large, rigid object for me to use. After giving me a most quizzical look, he provided me with his walking staff. It spanned the length of the bed perfectly, and we could sleep in the same bed together in all propriety, the staff separating us.
Once we were settled in bed together I lit into him.
"I want you to know that I am very vexed with you. I do not know what sort of game or contest you were having with that elf, but he injured you greatly. And you did not call for me! I have been trained for decades to heal my comrades when they call! You should know, that if you are ever injured, I will come for you. Through demons, or devils, or all manner of horror. I will come for you. It.... hurts me that you did not call for me the moment you were injured. You are a good man. Not only my suitor, but a kind, generous, loving man. Do not risk yourself unnecessarily! Call for me when you need me."
He tried to excuse himself, to apologize, to claim that he did not think the injury severe enough to merit my attentions, or that he was afraid that healing would not work properly with the purple mist about, but I believe I got my point across. He seems excessively distractable when I am bathing. I did not get the promise I was looking for, so I still fear for his safety around the elf. Perhaps in time I will come up with a way to protect him without his active participation...

Frustrated, upset, and finally feeling the loss of the first of my friends ever to die, I slept fitfully and in tears for most of the night...

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Vorne Gallowscast, human wizard
It was evening, and the cheat the devil tournament was well underway. The number of patrons wasn’t nearly as high as I’d have expected given all of the preparations, the announcements in the street, and the size of the grand prize; a huge treasure by my accounting, stacked on a raised platform in the center of the main floor. I wandered about enjoying the sights and sounds; feeling quite safe as I had a few bodyguards nearby. As I may have mentioned, it was lucky that I’d hired them. I even spent a few of my hard earned (earned by my parents that is...) pieces of gold.

I found the devil and demon theme of the establishment to be entertaining. The costumes worn by many of the girls working the floor, serving drinks or spinning roulette wheels were nice. Not too revealing, yet enough, and some of them were fairly cute. The only thing really disturbing about the entire arrangement was a nasty little demon, or devil, or something (I’ve never been that good at planar studies… the time to memorize all of those names and creature aspects is beyond that which I can dedicate at any given instant) who was caged hanging above the main floor. He (I assume it was male, though honestly I didn’t look close enough to be sure) shouted insults and jeers to the crowd below and far as I could tell was not a prop, but rather a real caged creature. Given time I learned his name… Ol’ Scratch, or some such.

I was about to call it an evening when fate came knocking… an alchemist’s bomb of some sort was tossed towards the middle of the room. It exploded with a blinding flash (though I managed to avert my eyes at the last moment) that left many in the room standing about confused and blinded. I quickly took stock of the situation and realized that most of the establishment’s guards were no longer effective. This, I realized, was quite a serious matter as a number of the patrons, or perhaps people who had slid in unnoticed along with the bomb, were heading towards the grand prize money. They looked to be a tough lot and at least one seemed to be a mage. Combat is one thing, alchemist’s bombs another, but magic wielded by a skilled hand can be devastating. I realized then and there, I needed to help.
I chose my targets in an attempt to assist those already in combat. I was not a powerful mage, yet, but I knew a few force missiles would aid in dropping a foe. This tactic worked fairly well and my natural aptitude for evocation magic allowed me a great number of these spells. Bolt after bolt lashed out at our foes, each unerringly landing. Unfortunately the mage took notice of me… and started casting a spell. I recognized the motions, a spell that would very likely end my life, cast by a mage of much greater skill than I and my bodyguards were already engaged in battle… but again, fate intervened.

Before the mage could finish casting the very air above tore open and an angel, straight from heaven flew out. Well, ok… flew may be me taking a bit of a liberty with the situation. In truth she fell, uncontrolled atop the mage, disrupting the deadly spell and causing the two of them to tumble into a pile on the floor. I will also add, as this is my private journal, written by my hand, and unlikely to ever be read by another… the angel was dressed more scantily than the tavern girls and looked much more lovely; I’d go so far as to say heavenly beautiful… though I suppose that’s the way of angels, at least one would imagine?

Really, the rest of the combat went pretty fast. My bodyguards performed most admirably, crushing a number of the intruders. There were really only two noteworthy points in the remainder of the fight. First, one of the bandits cast a spell to turn all of the prize money into a tapestry. A fine spell and one that would surely have made the treasure more portable had there been anyone left to carry it. The second was that the angel spoke, in celestial! She was rather unhappy about the demon that hung overhead, and she was most perturbed by one of the bandits who grabbed at her wings and threatened her. She cast a spell and he let go and didn’t bother her again. She called out for help from hounds… but for the life of me I didn’t see any dogs at all. I tried to calm her, explained that the demon thing above was safely caged and that we had little time or need to deal with it. However, things were well in hand at that point and the fight wound down, our side victorious.

The owner of the gambling hall commended us for helping. He was quite vocal in his praise and insisted that we take the gear from the intruders to go with the gold that he handed each of us. My bodyguards were quick to point out that they had fought on my behalf and that I should pay each of them the bonus money I had promised should they do so. I agreed, they had fought well as my men and I was proud of them. Of course, once they realized that as my men… they would get no share of any loot; since they were hirelings and paid for a service, indeed, my service… they quickly changed their tunes. Not one to worry about such things I told them that would be fine. I would stop paying them and they could have a share of this loot and any future; but that we really should work together. They felt that was a fine bargain. I’m sure either of my parents would have driven a harder bargain but for me finding a few friends in a hostile town was well worth the gold coins I would have earned at their expense.

The rest of the evening went rather quickly. Saul (the gambling hall’s proprietor) offered us free rooms and a there was even a mention of future employment. All of us who fought were feeling quite good about the outcome; it seems that flirting with death and coming though it alive is a very heady feeling. To celebrate we went to a local tavern and spent some of our newfound gold on drinks. This served as an excellent time to get to know my fellow comrades in arms including the rather lovely angel.

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Leilani Silverfalls, aasimar Life Oracle
(Journal from start of August 24 game and out-of-game interactions with Samaritha)

The next morning I set to my work with grim determination. While everyone else (save Taleck, who seems to enjoy the sunrise as much as I) slept, I retrieved a small shovel, and took out the bloodied feather Larur had been wearing at the time of his demise. I buried the feather in the very spot where he had waited for me so patiently oh so many mornings, placed flowers and colorful stones on the makeshift shrine, and sang to Sarenrae as the tears streamed down my cheeks. How many hours I sat there I do not know; I only know the others arose, saw me at my post, and chose not to disturb me. I did not step away from the shrine until the sun was fully upon me. My farewells to Larur complete, I rose to take care of business that was now mine, as it would insult Larur's memory to shirk the duties I had inherited from him.

Our first order of business was clearly to get in touch with Boss Croat. Taleck and Lian asked around, and learned that one contacted Boss Croat by sending him a message through one of the many urchins who swarmed the streets. I sent a simple message: "Leilani Silverfalls, floor manager of the Glorious Goblin, would like to meet with you to discuss recent incidents."
Somewhat to my surprise, we received a response within a few hours naming a time on the following day and a location. Boss Croat was willing to speak to us! This was a fortunate development!

I spent much of the rest of the day interviewing the other employees. Bojask refused to even meet with me. I do not understand his hostility, but apparently my authority as floor manager does not extend to him, so I could not take him to task for his rudeness. Carmen knows more about the workings of this place than I ever will; why she is not floor manager I will never know, save that apparently it requires some tact, and Carmen has demonstrated herself somewhat lacking in this area. Hans and Beyar both made it clear that when I invited them into my office, they expected a bit more than an "interview", and once they learned that I was not interested in them, they lost interest in me as well. The less said of our 'pseudo-angels', the better; they were poor girls working at the Goblin to collect a paycheck by titillating the male gamblers, and had to withstand said gamblers' attentions without the benefit of a Taleck at their backs. I do not care to ponder where they might be bruised. Finally, I interviewed Samaritha.
Samaritha was charming in her innocence and openness; she did not know Celestial, so I asked her to learn it from Vorne. She was concerned about that attacks on the Glorious Goblin, but I assured her that I was hoping to avoid such attacks in the future, and that she could rest assured that if the elf bothered her, I would have Taleck "speak" to the elf. She also expressed concern about Sans Quah, so I reassured her that, though his manner was rough, he had never shown anything other than loyalty to the Goblin. I suggested that she might help Vorne in decorating the establishment, and she took that well. Finally, she inquired as to my courtship with Vorne, and I assured her that it was proceeding quite well, while I asked her to let me know whether there was anything I could do to make her work at the Goblin more pleasant, and promised to keep her employed until such a time as she was accepted at the Cipher Lodge. This seemed to reassure her greatly, and she gave me some excellent advice on my courtship. We agreed to visit one another whenever we had questions. We started the interview as strangers, and departed as good friends! Would that all meetings ended so happily!

The next day after breakfast was our appointment with Boss Croat. Gathering Vorne and my hounds, we set off. The building in which we were to meet was nondescript, but there were two guards at the door, so I identified myself. They beckoned me in, and we met with a half-orc lieutenant of Boss Croat's. I apologized for our assault on Smeed, explained our concerns that Zincher was attempting to frame Boss Croat, and requested that he share any information he learned about Larur's murder with us. He informed us that Smeed was dead, and we were the prime suspects. I assured him that we had nothing to do with that, and he believed me. What a relief to be dealing with a reasonable fellow! Once that was out of the way, he found the rest of the terms of our agreement acceptable, as we were "little fish" and of no concern to Croat, though if we grew into "big fish", he might have issues with us. I do not care much for politics, especially politics of the dishonest, so I made polite conversation until our business was concluded, and we returned to the Goblin, no further along in our investigation of Larur's murder, but no longer concerned that Boss Croat would seek vengeance for our attack on Smeed. It was not an ideal resolution, but it protected my hounds from harm, and was therefore well worth my while.

Perhaps the strangest event of the week was Sans Quah's sudden decision to seek Samaritha's courtship! After speaking barely a dozen words to the lot of us, he apparently approached her and expressed an interest in taking her out on a date! Much to her credit, although Samaritha could not think of what they could possibly have in common, she accepted. While I was sorely tempted to gather up Vorne and dine at the same restaurant, I knew this would be overly-intrusive, as I am not a stealthy or subtle woman, and would most certainly be noticed. Instead, I waited eagerly at my writing desk as Vorne worked on his scrolls, and when I heard Samaritha's light footsteps in the hall, I burst forth and escorted her into her room. She gave me a one-word description of their date: "Awkward". Apparently he was kind enough, but they indeed have nothing in common, and she could not for the life of her see what he saw in her, and knew not what to look for in him. I reassured her that she was beautiful, and charming, and of course any man would be wise to seek her courtship, and this made her smile. We chatted a bit more about her date, I scritched Leniloria (Samaritha's owl -- a darling creature!) about the head and neck, and then I took my leave and returned to my room. Vorne did not seem to have a particular interest in how the date had gone, so he and I retired for the evening.

The next few days passed quickly; I continued my courtship with Vorne, finally convincing him to purchase me a favor: A small piece of Varisian silk from the Silken Thread that perfectly matches my dress. I wear it proudly in my hair every day! I visited the temple of Sarenrae every week and tithed, and I greeted guests at the Glorious Goblin. I must say, I find the children around the temple ever so endearing! I have learned that a single gold piece can be exchanged for 100 copper pieces, and the children oh so love this copper! I cannot resist exchanging a gold piece every time I plan on going to the temple, and handing the copper pieces out to the children who flock to me. They are fond of touching my wings with their filthy little hands, but they never grab, have never plucked a single feather, and are so charming and grateful that I find them all quite lovely! I wish I could do more for them than provide them with paltry copper, but as Vorne says, giving gold to the temple and copper to the children is the best way to assure as many people as possible are fed! I do not find the area around the temple nearly as menacing as I once did. As always, goodness is its own reward!

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Vorne Gallowscast, human wizard
Time passed as the Goblin was renovated to become the Glorious Goblin. I enjoyed passing the time talking with my newfound friends, helping out a bit here or there, and otherwise living off of Saul’s gold. Certainly I was helping, and most certainly I would fight to guard the place for him… but I did feel a bit guilty as little or nothing was going on that seemed to warrant such a great number of guards. Soon though the place would re-open, with a new theme inspired by Leilani the angel, and surely my tasks would become harder. I chalked up this time against the inevitable difficulties the future would bring and that eased my guilt a reasonable amount.

One of the big advantages of working for Saul was that I did get free time. I used it to write scrolls (the work I really should have been doing) and to talk to Leilani. She was a darling woman and I was certain that my studies as a wizard would benefit from knowing more about the celestial plane and angels. At least that’s what I told myself and it didn’t hurt that I spoke celestial. During this time she and I exchanged quite a bit of information. I told her of my home, of wandering the countryside with a caravan and about my family and friends. She regaled me with tales of her “hounds” (A term I learned she used to refer to fighters who protected her – given that the fighters she trained with on the celestial plane were actually dogs of some nature or another certainly aided in my memory of that). In truth I’ve grown quite fond of her, though she is nothing at all like I originally thought an angel should be. This I’m sure is because she is only half angel, though really who could tell by looking at her?

Given our “free” time I suggested that we use the initial money granted by Saul to buy some gear for those of us who had little. Leilani needed some armor, at least leather, and some clothing suitable for life on this plane. Her silks were plain but lovely, and wholly not acceptable for day to day wear around Riddleport; even the shoes she wore were borrowed! There were many things to do that day, temples to see (Apparently, and much to my surprise, angels have to ask permission of priestesses of Calistria in order to do work for gambling halls!), things to buy, and other such sundry tasks that do not warrant too terribly much ink in my journal. I will note however that one thing did stand out as noteworthy.

One of the shops we stopped into sold dresses and one of the dresses we saw was a truly magnificent creation that looked most lovely when worn by Leilani. As soon as she saw it her eyes lit up, and after she tried it on I could tell that she had to have it. Alas, her funds were not sufficient to procure such finery and I saw her expression turn to one of true sorrow. Trust me, you never want to see a sad angel… her wings drooped so far I was afraid they would drag in the dirt! The shopkeepers (two rather wonderful people really) said that they would hold the dress for a day. In my heart I knew it was rather unlikely that Leilani was going to stumble into such a sum of money before tomorrow and that the dress was surely to be sold before she could earn that kind of gold.

It was at that moment that I made one of the largest (money wise at least) decisions of my life. I couldn’t stand to see her sad. I had a place to stay, food to eat, and a job of sorts working for Saul. I still had a good deal of my wizard schooling money provided by my parents. I chose to come back later the next day and purchase a 300 gold dress for an angel. I was certain that seeing a happy angel would be much better than seeing a sad one. And so I did just that… the shopkeepers were so very nice and carefully wrapped the dress for me. I wrote a simple note and made it a point to leave it for Leilani to wear that evening (opening night of the newly renovated Glorious Goblin). She did. She was lovely. To make a short story into an even shorter one… the evening went by without a hitch and she even thanked me before the night was over. I did spend a bit more time watching her than perhaps my employer would have thought proper but Saul didn’t mention it and seemed in a fine mood given his grand reopening went well.

Life was good, the job was easy and I did seem to be getting along quite well with an angel! However, I would soon discover that only two out of three of those things were true… but that tale will have to wait for another journal entry.

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Leilani Silverfalls, aasimar Life Oracle
(Journal from more of the August 24 game.)
Player Note: Yes, I'm stretching it out now that Vorne and Lian are posting semi-regularly to let them catch up. Plus we missed almost a month, so I've only got one more session to report (September 21) before I have to fall off to our biweekly (or less) schedule. Of course, many might argue that this is a Good Thing just to slow me down and force me to write more on the RotRL campaign.

To my great shame, my first week as floor manager of the Glorious Goblin did not go well. Saul's report at the end of the week was dismal, and he was unable to pay us at all! How my wings drooped! The one bright spot of the week was that it had been two weeks since Vorne had asked to court me, and we were now free to kiss. Knowing he was blissfully unaware of the rigors of Celestial courtship, I waited until early morning when he was barely stirring, then pounced and stole our first kiss! His reaction was most delightful! I must say, of all the joys of living and working on the Material plane, my courtship with Vorne remains my favorite.

My second week as floor manager was far more eventful! First, one day while we were working around the Goblin, some of us heard screams of distress from outside! Rushing out to see what the commotion was about, we saw that the ocean had surged to unnatural heights, and left two huge clawed creatures at the docks. (I have since learned that they are referred to as "reefclaws".) Even worse, several people had been washed out to sea with the wave, and were floundering with the creatures between them and shore!
I must say, the bravery displayed by my companions at this point made my heart sing! Sans Quah rushed forward, rope in hand, practically daring the creatures to claw him as he raced into the surf to rescue the victims. Vorne Greased one of the victims who was in the grasp of a creature, and the poor man escaped. Zokrim, Taleck, and Lian raced out along one pier, while Vorne and I followed Sans Quah along the other. Carmen raced back towards the Glorious Goblin to get needed help and supplies. Aneurin stood tall between the piers, challenging either creature to assail him. The Accursed Elf was missing, as always.

Unfortunately, although the fight went well, the blood and excitement in the water attracted another carnivorous sea dweller (later identified for me as a "bunyip", apparently frequently referred to as "Yippy" for reasons beyond my understanding). To my horror, Vorne raced all the way to the end of the pier, standing side-by-side with Sans Quah in an open challenge. What was he thinking? The sight of his slight frame next to Sans Quah's mass terrified me; even a half-witted beast would know he was the tastier morsel! I rushed forward and pulled him back away from the edge, only to have him step forward again and renew his assault on the bunyip! Between Vorne's missiles and the others' arrows, the bunyip decided it had had enough and fled. To our great misfortune, the man the bunyip had grabbed did not survive. However, the other victims did, and were most grateful for our aid.
I reviewed the situation: Both reefclaws were dead. Though I had stabilized the creatures after they fell, Zokrim and Aneurin chose to finish them off. While that was certainly their choice, it should have warned me of the shadow man's bloodthirstiness.
Once again, the party rejoiced in yet another "delicacy" (is there any creature that is not considered a delicacy on this plane?), removed the reefclaw's claws, and proceeded back to the Goblin.

As we walked, I lit into Vorne yet again. How dare he risk his life needlessly, to stand at the edge of the pier and act like a hound? He patiently explained that his missiles were only of limited reach, and in order to strike the bunyip he had to be at the very end of the pier. Would I rather he let the man die?
Ashamed at my admonishment, I let my head and wings droop as I slunk back to the Goblin. Inwardly, my heart soared! My suitor was truly a man worthy of my affections! I had to hope that he would find me worthy as well! I prefer not to kiss and tell, but I will admit that Vorne received more than one kiss that evening.

Two days later, Samaritha was accepted to the Cipher Academy and tendered her resignation! What joy! What sadness! My only female confidante was moving on to a much better position, but I would no longer be able to steal into her room at night to talk about Vorne or Sans Quah or the Accursed Elf or any other topic that popped into my head. I hugged her goodbye, and promised to visit her, and helped her pack her things and depart.

With Samaritha gone, the Accursed Elf in hiding, and the mystery of Larur's death no closer to resolved, those party members interested in the blot started plotting their next move: One of them would fly up to investigate it. A scroll of Fly would be expensive; 150 gold pieces, and they had to decide who to send up. While I was a natural choice for my flying experience, I knew nothing of investigating magic. It was quickly decided that Vorne would be the one to fly up. But how to afford the scroll? Sans Quah and Aneurin had the nerve to suggest I sell The Dress to pay for a paltry scroll! Fortunately, Vorne intervened before I could lose my temper, and said that he still had sufficient funds to pay for such a scroll. Is the man's purse truly bottomless?
The scroll was easily obtained, and as we all watched, I with heart in throat, he flew upwards, upwards, upwards, and finally touched the blot! To my deep relief, after the spell started to fade, he returned safely to the ground, stating that the blot was cold, and chilled him, and was filled with transmutation magic. I examined him carefully from top to bottom, but saw no signs of distress, and so, satisfied, we returned to our duties at the Goblin.

I know not whether it was Sarenrae's touch, or memories of Larur, or plain and simple fortune that put me in a restless slumber that night. Across the staff from me, Vorne started writhing and moaning in his sleep. As I watched, wounds started opening on him from within! I recognized the enchantment as a particularly vicious Nightmare. For a brief moment I panicked: I could not in propriety cross the staff, yet he needed me!
Then I thought back on the deep yellow eyes of my sergeant. We had had a particularly brutal training session, and one of my former suitors had taken a grave injury. I had promised him that I would never touch him again, so I could not heal him. My sergeant led me aside, gazed into my eyes, took me firmly by the shoulders, and said, "Leilani, you are our healer. You are the only thing between most of these men and death. If you must ever decide between 'the rules' and saving a life, you MUST save the life. And that's an order! I do not care what you promised. I do not care what you feel. I need you to heal my men. Always! No matter what!"
My resolve renewed, I lifted the staff and tossed it aside, then wrapped my arms and wings around Vorne, pouring healing energy into him and trying to shield him from the Nightmare that had him in its clutches. My healing cured his body, but my Protection from Evil spells did nothing to cleanse his mind. And so I lay there, wrapped desperately around Vorne, wishing for him to wake, to be well, to survive the evening for me, for the entire night.
And he survived!

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(Alderan the Brilliant)

Dear Diary,

Leilani finally came to her senses. She wrote (albeit her handwriting is atrocious), a very nice note saying that she had misjudged me. She was being coy, but I understood what she was trying to say -- that she has realized, finally, my true brilliance and how indispensable I am to the team.

She is very bright, really. The week prior Vorne correctly mentioned me in an otherwise mediocre (very good for him, actually) talk.

I believe I misjudged these two -- they are actually very bright and thoughtful people. Arbor agrees (picking at seeds seemingly randomly but I knew what he meant)that they are definitely a cut above the truly mediocre company one could otherwise hope to keep in this cesspool of a town.

Cypher Mage guild is still too haughty to recognize my natural brilliance. I'll admit there are some mages there who truly understand inner mysteries that are still opaque to me.

Small note -- agreed with the summary execution of three were-rats today. We fought them. They lost. The pathetic pleading of the tied up one purchased no sympathy from me. We were under no obligation whatsoever to offer quarter to ambushing assassins. I expect to be treated similarly -- when we broke into the loan shark because we thought he had a hand in kidnapping our compatriot and realized our mistake, I immediately apologize and offered to pay for the various broken doors and damaged furnishings. If he had one the fight and killed us or sold us into slavery, that is what we would have deserved.

The laws of civilization are clear enough. And justice is the pillar of civilization -- not silly, subjective concepts like good or evil.

Quick time frame reference: Alderan's post is from our most recent game (October 5), so it's a couple of sessions ahead of even Leilani. But of course, Alderan is so brilliant why wouldn't he be miles ahead of anyone else? :-P

Looks like our next session won't be 'til November, though, so hopefully everyone posting (Vorne, Lian, and Leilani) will catch up with Alderan. Rumor has it that Zokrim and Carmen may join in soon. And Taleck might manage a second post!

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I've always wondered how people manage to argue moral ambiguity in a world where Heaven and Hell actually exist, and demons and devils actually are trying to collect the souls of mortals. The subjectiveness of good and evil kind of goes out the window at that point, doesn't it?

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Misroi wrote:
I've always wondered how people manage to argue moral ambiguity in a world where Heaven and Hell actually exist, and demons and devils actually are trying to collect the souls of mortals. The subjectiveness of good and evil kind of goes out the window at that point, doesn't it?

Oh, Alderan and Leilani had quite a wonderful in-character debate about the morality of executing the prisoners they'd taken at the big battle at the Glorious Goblin (a couple writeups ahead of this thread at the moment).

Here's the issue: Suppose Leilani is convinced that 5 men are worth redeeming, but she only successfully redeems one of them. Three of the others go on to a middling life of crime and an eternity of torment. But the fifth goes on to be a criminal mastermind, dies, and works his way up through the ranks of Hell to become a major devil, converting thousands to his evil cause.

Yeah, Leilani saved ONE soul by redeeming that ONE man. But by allowing the other four to go because she didn't roll high enough on her Sense Motive (or just wasn't convincing enough), she doomed thousands of souls. Did she do "good"?

It's an awful lot of fun having Leilani argue with Alderan. He's quite the character. But yeah, denying the existence of good and evil when you're traveling (and arguing) with a half-angel from Nirvana is kind of silly, isn't it? The much bigger question is: What IS doing 'good'?

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

And that's a good question to have. At that point, I think it depends upon who it is that's got the sword in their hand. Most devout followers of Ragathiel, for example, probably wouldn't even get as far as having five people alive capable of asking to be redeemed. They're all about stamping out evil as strongly as possible. I can also see a paladin of Erastil doing some sort of outreach program - turning these five people into contributing members of society. "It's our job to bring them back into the community," or something like that. Shelyn worshipers probably would aim to help all of them as well, but they wouldn't even consider the option to kill their prisoners - that removes any chance they had to purify themselves.

That's not to say every cleric would have the same outlook. A devout follower of the Cult of the Dawnflower would probably look hand a holy symbol to the one convert, and remove the heads of the other four that rebuffed the word of Sarenrae, as they're all about redeeming evildoers by word or by sword. A more relaxed worshiper of Sarenrae, however, might take a more reasoned approach, trying to show the four a different path than the one they're on.

I will agree that the question you pose is a far more appropriate question to ask in a D&D world - in a universe where good and evil are not just real quanities, but measurable quantities, what are the qualities that make a 'good' act Good, and an 'evil' act Evil?

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Leilani Silverfalls, aasimar Life Oracle
(Journal from remainder of the August 24 game.)

In the morning I dared not leave Vorne's side until he awoke; my prayers could wait until another day! He told me of a nightmare of being all alone in an interdimensional void, with the cold and blackness seeping through his body as he simultaneously choked and froze. He involuntarily shuddered on thinking of it, and I held him close. If he noticed the lack of the staff, he did not mention it. For the rest of the day I watched him like a mother hen watches her chicks, but he showed no signs of recurrence, though he found that he had not regained any spells during his restless night. That evening, there was no point in propriety when his mind, perhaps his very soul was in danger, so as he lay down to sleep I wrapped myself around him again, shielding his body and mind with mine. He did not object. I cast Protection from Evil on him as often as I could, then stayed awake for the rest of the evening watching over him. I know that at some point I dozed off, as I awoke just before dawn, arms and wings still wrapped around him, but he was warm, and hale, and his heart beat strongly within his chest. I softly woke him, learned that the Nightmare had not returned, kissed him back to sleep, and went to greet Sarenrae. I spent much of that day in my room asleep, recovering from my vigils. I know not whither Vorne went during the day, but he was at his post in the Goblin that evening, as cheerful and generous as ever.

Sans Quah spent much of his time that week investigating Saul's history. We learned that Saul's son Orik had had an affair with a woman associated with Clegg's brother; I am afraid I did not quite understand whether the woman was Clegg's brother's daughter, wife, or other relation. In a classic tale of improper love, Zincher's brother ended up dead, Orik on the run, and Zincher himself with an eternal hatred of Saul. (Why hate the father for the son's acts? Such things are truly beyond me. And was there ever a greater argument in favor of proper courtship?) In any case, Saul's previous establishment burned to the ground and he lost his wife and his hand. Many say that Saul was responsible for the death of his wife to cover up his flight. But he did not succeed in fleeing, and was still in Riddleport trying to run a legitimate establishment! It was a tragic tale, but it gave me hope, as it seemed that Saul was working hard on his own redemption, and I hoped that I gave him some inspiration to keep trying, my pathetic attempts at running his establishment notwithstanding.

Our profits for that week were up, and we each received 10 gold! Perhaps I was learning! But alas, no; another week passed, and again our profits fell to next to nothing! Something must be done!

Fortunately, the day before Saul was to report our profits for the next week, he informed us that a shipment of expensive liquors was arriving on the docks that day, and he was concerned for its safety. It had originally been slated to arrive just before the grand re-opening of the Golden Goblin, but rough seas had delayed the shipment by several weeks, and now he hoped the expensive potables might help attract a richer clientele to our humble establishment. We headed for the docks forthwith. As usual, the Accursed Elf was nowhere to be found! Did he care nothing about the future of Saul's establishment? Did he have no sense of duty nor honor?

As we arrived, we saw a group of men already unloading the cargo! Taleck and Lian identified the armor-clad brute in charge as one Broddick Faje, an infamous villain full of cruelty and malice, who was referred to as "Old Korvosa" behind his back because of his association with the town guard in that city. Is there any city on this plane that does not have a corrupt police force?
While I was not hopeful as to the outcome, I approached in the lead and attempted to explain to Mr. Faje that he was unloading our shipment. He responded with an obscenity. Aneurin offered to attempt the negotiations, and I acquiesced. A few choice words later and we were in combat!

For once, I must report that our group's tactics resembled that of a true fighting force. Vorne and I stayed in the back, he casting his missiles and I healing, and our hounds took the brunt of the fight to our foe. Unfortunately, Faje was an able fighter, as were his men, and I had to spend much of my healing keeping my hounds upright. Lian finally made his way behind the group, putting himself in grave danger but flanking our foes, and one by one they fell! To my utter horror, when Faje fell Zokrim stepped up and slit his throat! What villainy! I can understand an accidental death in the heat of battle, but to intentionally murder a sentient being with no trial, no judgement, and no chance for redemption? We would have words! Once Faje was down the fight became a rout, with one thug escaping under the docks, and the rest dead or dying.
I stabilized the two survivors, but none would help me take them to the gendarmes, and I was told that the gendarmes would let them go anyway. Finally, Vorne, Taleck, and Lian escorted me as I paid a pair of sailors a small amount of coin to watch over the men until they recovered from their wounds. There is no mercy or sympathy in Riddleport; only money truly speaks!

We brought the liquors back to Saul, and he put them on sale. Unfortunately, it did not help our business, and we had yet another terrible week! Why, oh why, does he keep me on as floor manager? He would be better off with one of the urchins from the temple! Or even Zokrim's half-trained mutt!

During our time off, I took Zokrim aside. I must admit, I was terrified. The shadow man had a tendency for violence that was borderline psychotic, and I was planning on dressing him down most thoroughly. He had no idea as to why I wanted to speak with him, so I took him to my office, we sat down, and I explained that 'civilized' folk did not go around slitting each other's throats. He retorted that Faje had hit him, and therefore deserved to die. And thus began yet another discussion as to how such an attitude would inevitably lead to an endless cycle of death. Did he really want another who defeated him to slit his throat in combat? Zokrim replied that this was the way of things, and certainly he would expect his own throat to be slit! How barbaric! How frustrating! Finally, lacking any other recourse, I threatened that if he could not refrain from slaying our fallen foes, I could not in good conscience heal him during combat for fear of others' lives. This got his attention! To my surprise, he did not get angry, nor violent, but instead fearful! Apparently he greatly respects and appreciates my healing! He agreed that he would not slay downed foes without my permission, but he wanted to be allowed to be the executioner if I did decide that a foe needed to die. I agreed that this was perfectly satisfactory; I am under no illusions that there are men in Riddleport who must be judged and killed, and I am just as happy to have an executioner, though his enthusiasm still concerns me. Taleck is a mighty warrior, yet Taleck does not have this frightening need to kill his foes; once they are downed, he is perfectly happy to let others deal with the aftermath.

A few days later, the most curious event of the blot occurred: All of the birds of Riddleport became bound and determined to dash themselves to death against the Cipher Gate. Thousands, or even tens of thousands of birds flew up, dashed themselves against the stones, and perished. The river and bay were filled with stinking, rotting carcasses for days! And our mages had no explanation!

The mystery of the blot becomes deeper with every passing week, in spite of all attempts to understand it.

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Leilani Silverfalls, aasimar Life Oracle
(Journal from most of September 21 game)

Where to begin? Where to end? My thoughts fly about like sparrows frightened witless by an approaching hawk! The bloodstains have been cleansed from my silks. My bones are mended. And in spite of my inadequacies, we are all alive! Yes! That is what is important! Thanks to Alderan and Vorne, we lived to see the morning! Oh, how I misjudged him! I am sure that on the morrow there will be more apologies, and more discussion, and... mother was wrong. Karma does NOT protect you on this plane! I have been cut by sword, shot by arrow, and beaten by bone-crunching fists! Yet Alderan saved me! In spite of my treatment of him! Elves are indeed as noble as is told. He is just... grating. Noble, but horribly, horribly grating.

As I read through my previous entries, hands still shaking from the shock, the pain, and the fear that I almost lost my poor Taleck, I see that I must begin two weeks before last night's altercation. So be it!

My third week as floor manager proved conclusively that I should not be the floor manager of the Glorious Goblin; profits plummeted, and not only did we receive no pay, but Saul was concerned he might have to close the establishment soon if things didn't pick up. I offered him my resignation, but he declined, insisting that I was doing my part, and the fault was entirely his. It was also at that point that Alderan reappeared. I know not where he had been the last few weeks, but I approached him, confronted him about his conflict with Vorne, and demanded that he apologize to Vorne or I would not heal him. His response was so obscene I cannot write it in this journal; I can only note that it involved an impossible act with myself. I redoubled my efforts to attract business to the Goblin, even going so far as to ask my urchins, if they didn't mind, and it wouldn't get them in trouble with their parents or put them at risk, to help.
Although business picked up a bit, we once again had to do without pay on the fourth week, and my fellow employees began to grumble their misgivings about the whole affair.

In the meantime, it turned out that the elf had only emerged to sate his own ego; he scheduled a presentation at the Cipher Mage academy. While I detested the notion of showing any support for him whatsoever, Vorne wanted to see him speak, so I accompanied Vorne to the abhorrent elf's talk. The things one must abide for one's suitor! His presentation was as pompous and long-winded as one might expect from him, but took the very interesting approach of listing all of the things that the blot was NOT. Many of the researchers were apparently impressed by this novel approach, so perhaps the elf is indeed competent in his field. Vorne was so impressed that he scheduled a presentation of his own several days later.
Before Vorne could speak, the blot manifested itself again; this time all of the weather vanes in the city turned to point to it. The elf was incensed! How could the magic affect only weather vanes? Why didn't other similarly-shaped bits of metal point at the blot? He spent quite a bit of time that day ranting and raving about how the blot could not possibly be intelligent, and should not be able to distinguish a weather vane from a walking stick placed on the rooftop, and such magic made no sense anyway! I am a bit abashed to admit I took great pleasure in his discomfiture. I come from a plane where many great things happen at the whim of a god or goddess, and attempting to explain them is folly. I did not offer the elf any solace, however. I was still livid at him for his treatment of Vorne (and me, for that matter).

While I could not be Vorne's escort for his presentation, Samaritha kindly agreed to sit with me, and we spent a pleasant time together listening to Vorne and catching up on each other's news. Vorne's presentation was similarly novel; rather than saying anything about the blot itself, he spoke of those researching the blot. He discussed each researcher in turn, his or her theories, and how those in the audience might assist or learn from that particular researcher. According to him, Alderan was the most preeminent researcher of the blot in the city! Who knew? We returned to the Goblin, and Alderan was much friendlier towards Vorne; I no longer feared that the elf would try to assassinate him in his sleep. I should note here something that I learned later: While I was preparing to greet customers at the Goblin that evening, Alderan approached Vorne and formally apologized for his mistreatment of him! Vorne's lecture had changed the elf's opinion of him, but the elf wanted nothing whatsoever to do with me.

That evening proved yet again that the term "oracle" is a gross misnomer for me. As closing time came, we attended our usual duties. Hans set to cleaning the bar (or more accurately, sitting at it sampling the wares), Beyer started carrying trays and decorations back to the storerooms, Alderan and Vorne used their magics to clean the establishment, and Aleurin, Sans Quah, and Carmen escorted some of the girls home. None of us had any inkling of what was to come!
The trouble started at some pre-arranged signal. Perhaps half a dozen stragglers revealed themselves to be assailants! They attacked our guards and started wrecking the establishment! We were all strewn about the main hall, so any sense of grouping for tactics was hopeless. As blood spilled and our poor guards fell, I raced to the central platform and channeled energy to heal our allies. Unfortunately, we were so separated by distance it was almost impossible to reach everyone. The situation was dire: As we all engaged (including Vorne and Alderan, who fired magical bolts of energy at our enemies), our enemies chose their targets. Zokrim was alone on one side of the room with two of the thugs. Three of them took on Taleck and Lian. And one assailed Alderan. With no one else free to aid him, Vorne and I hurried towards Zokrim. One of the thugs slew a guard, broke off with Zokrim, and engaged us. And struck me with his sword! I have been hit a multitude of times with practice swords, but this was the first time an enemy had intentionally spilled my blood. How it stung! And suddenly I had the crushing realization that they would not hesitate to kill me, in spite of the fact that I did not carry a weapon, and had never harmed another sentient being! Karma was wrong!

The fight went poorly: Alderan was no match for a well-armed, well-trained thug, and quickly dropped. While I had no desire to heal him, I could not leave him to bleed to death, but the thug who had struck me would not let me flee; he kept me engaged, ignoring Vorne, and prevented me from reaching the fallen elf. Taleck and Lian did not live up to their reputations; they were having trouble with their three thugs. Fortunately or unfortunately, Zokrim's bloodthirstiness won the round for us. One thug was no match for him, especially as he had the help of a pair of guards, and he quickly came to my rescue and attacked my assailant. Vorne took advantage of the attacker's ignorance of him to assist Taleck and Lian with a patch of Grease. Hans and Beyer, finally realizing something was wrong, raced in and dropped the thug who was about to slay Alderan. As I finally reached Alderan and stabilized him (Player note: It was a close call. He was at -7 HP and had CON dumped to 8, so I barely managed to reach him on his very last round of life), Vorne, who knew of my distaste for the elf, called out that Alderan had indeed apologized, and I should heal him.
With Hans, Beyer, and Zokrim leading the fray, and Taleck and Lian finally getting into the rhythm of battle and beginning to connect, we were victorious. I healed Alderan so he awoke, just in time for us to hear a commotion at the back stairs. More assailants! As I took the time to heal Taleck yet again (the poor man seems to know nothing of avoiding attacks, simply relying on his natural resilience to survive them), the rest of the party raced for the stairs.

As we arrived upstairs, we saw three thugs in the anteroom to Saul's office, declaring loudly that, "He isn't here!"
Still foolishly trusting in my magics, I cast Sanctuary on Taleck and sent him rushing headlong into the room, hoping that my spell would protect him long enough for him to disrupt the obvious ambush. Unfortunately, my spell was almost entirely ineffective on him, and the thugs assailed him as he ran through the room. Even worse, a half-orc trained in the arts of bare-handed combat (Player Note: A monk) came out of Saul's office and did such damage to Taleck that he dropped! Zokrim and Lian rushed in as well, only to succumb to the half-orc's vicious attacks! I successfully channeled energy to restore them all, but the thugs and the monk dropped them again, save Zokrim, who fought desperately from the ground.

And then, my wizards stepped forward!

With no hope of success nor even hope of survival, Vorne and Alderan stepped forward and engaged the monk, saving the rest of the party from certain death! I stepped in as well, but the monk had a clear hatred of healers, and struck me with his bare hands as I entered. I felt my ribs crack under his assault, and I was forced to flee or die. But Alderan and Vorne stood tall, and fought. I cannot do their bravery justice here. They knew they were doomed. They knew that when they fell the other party members would fall as well. They knew I was sorely injured, nursing my wounds, and would not be able to return for several precious seconds. But they fought on! And Alderan struck the monk not once, but many times! I rushed in again, and the monk again assaulted me within an inch of my life! My bones cracked, my breath went short, but I fought on, not daring to shame myself before the magnificence of Alderan and Vorne's bravery! How well I chose my suitor, and how wonderfully his newfound ally fought at his side! Inevitably, both Alderan and Vorne fell, but not before I was able to return Zokrim to the fray. And while I cannot condone Zokrim's vicious nature, he is an ally worth having in a fight! While Zokrim eliminated the thugs, I managed to get Lian in fighting trim again, and started in on Taleck.

With their combined attacks, Lian and Zokrim dropped the monk. Zokrim turned his hatred of all things that offended him towards the thugs. They did not survive the encounter, and I will not mourn them. Whether the monk or the thugs were alive or dead became immaterial as a third assault announced itself from below! My spells and my channels exhausted, I was reduced to my simple wand, and I spent every possible moment healing my colleagues as they charged downwards to assail the new foe!
Player Note: Yeah, in one fight I spent 29 charges on a wand of CLW. It was ugliness, plain and simple.

As I healed Taleck; Zokrim, Lian, Vorne and Alderan confronted the new threat: Four thugs going through our rooms. This convinced Alderan that their true goal was to steal his research. Considering Vorne's speech, I could not be sure that this was not the case. Fortunately, once Taleck was once again among us, he proved his value again. Zokrim went out the window and into the window they entered to prevent their escape the way they'd come. Taleck went out the window and blocked their exit through the closest window. And Lian and Vorne prevented their leaving back into the Goblin. Alderan, exhausted, wounded, and spent, spent his time sampling the wares of the bar. I could not blame him; he had been dropped into unconsciousness three times in this one battle, had shown bravery beyond any three men I'd known, and was content to let others finish the fight as he sampled the Goblin's alcoholic wares. The final thugs, wounded and surrounded, surrendered.

As others secured the Goblin, I used my wand extensively to bring everyone back up to fighting trim. Only Alderan refused the final healing spell, insisting that I save a charge on the wand specifically for him, for "when he really needed it". What a noble creature this elf is, when he is not offending my sensibilities!

Player Note: I was pretty darned impressed at the final healing toll: 38 heals including 5 channels, 4 spells, and 29 wand charges. Now THAT'S a tough fight for 2nd-level characters!

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Leilani Silverfalls, aasimar Life Oracle
(Between-game journal)
Player Note: Sometimes I'm just tempted to post an entire IM session. Leilani, Vorne, and Saul spent a good 4-5 hours over the days after the Septmeber 21 game roleplaying via IM. I'm summarizing here, but it was a really epic 3-way roleplay. Curse Vorne's new job! No IM! What kind of madness is that!??!?!

Shaking, despondent, and covered in my own blood, once I was assured that all of our co-workers were accounted for I allowed Vorne to escort me back to our room. I removed my silks, sobbing at their pathetic state: Cut in a dozen places, bloodstained, and likely never to be wearable again. As I stared at them, gasping for breath, I thought of myself in much the same way. My entire world had been upended in a single night, and I would never be the same! Karma was a lie. The brigands had had no qualms about attacking me; indeed, both the downstairs brigand and the half-orc had gone out of their way to try to strike me down to prevent me from healing my fallen comrades. Alderan was not a "Soulless One", but a noble warrior hampered by an utter lack of social skills. And a dozen men were locked downstairs, two floors below me, doomed to die unless I could conceive of a reason they should live!

As I removed my mother's jewelry piece by piece, carefully washing each precious memento of a more naive time, I asked Vorne to wash me. At first he was hesitant to scrub me. I had to urge him to scrub the blood, the pain, and the utter feel of hopelessness from my skin. As he worked, we talked. We spoke of Taleck and my need to find a way to heal him at a distance, as he spends much of too many fights lying bleeding on the floor. We spoke of Alderan's nobility and my misjudgement of him. And my most pressing concern was, of course, the men downstairs. Someone should interview each and every one of them, determine which were merely dupes and which were truly irredeemable, and mete swift justice on the lot of them. Unfortunately, my skills lie in getting along with people, not in reading them, so I was hopeless for the task. Vorne quizzed me on what would be done on my plane. As we spoke, I came to the realization: We needed a paladin! Vorne was skeptical that we would find a paladin in Riddleport, but suggested we at least approach Saul to buy time for the imprisoned men.

We decided to save my wings for last, so I switched over to scrubbing Vorne and we addressed the three questions of most concern to me:
(1) Why had Boss Croat and Clegg Zincher teamed up against Saul? It made no tactical sense! What were Saul's crimes that we did not know of? We knew that Zincher blamed Saul for his brother's death, but such an open assault seemed far beyond even such things as family vengeance. But again, I am not a good judge of character... yet.
(2) How could I improve my healing to protect my comrades at a distance? I had made many mistakes during the fight; I used my channeled energy too early and too often, expecting the first fight to be the last. I moved too close to the combat. And I trusted in my Sanctuary spell to protect a hound (Taleck), and it did not. I was hoping Vorne could help me puzzle out spells that could help me heal at a distance. He knew of one that required a pair of expensive golden bracelets. I am sure we will have plenty of money after selling the brigands' gear, so I will have to investigate that spell. Perhaps the temple of Calistria might have it...
(3) What could we do about the men in the basement, whose lives would surely be forfeit in the morning? I was sure that at least half of them would prove irredeemable, and would need to be put down, and I was certain the half-orc was a devout follower of Zon Kuthon and would similarly need to be either put down or made to swear never to harm any of us (an oath I do not believe we could convince him to make). But if I could save the redeemable men, it would save both my and Saul's souls from being stained with their blood. What could I do?

I realized that I could do my best. I would ask Saul for 24 hours to find a paladin. If I could not find a paladin in that time, Saul could do with the men as he pleased. Vorne thought this was an excellent idea. For a moment, I looked to my silks, then burst into tears again. They could never again be wearable! Vorne took one look at me and cast some sort of spell that mended my silks. Then cleaned them! In two simple spells they were as good as the day mother gifted them to me! Is there no end to my suitor's kindness?!?

While both Vorne and I were certain that the attack had been full-scale, we saw no reason to endanger ourselves, so I dressed in armor and shield, and borrowed Vorne's dagger. I may "not know which end to stab people with", but I am afraid Vorne is better off using it as an eating utensil, and, with armor and shield, I am more effective than him when neither of us has a spell to our name.
We proceeded cautiously to Saul's bedroom, but there was no one there. We went downstairs to the main floor where we found Hans still diligently cleaning the bloodstains from the floor, and he helpfully summoned Saul from the lower floor. I did not dissemble; I simply asked Saul to spare the men for 24 hours that I might search for a paladin to judge them. He seemed to find the very idea charming, amusing, naive, and sad all at the same time, but he agreed for all save but the half-orc. The half-orc must be killed on the spot, but he would allow the rest to live until the next evening, giving me one day to find my paladin. In fact, he went farther than I had hoped: He agreed that any man who was willing to talk about who hired him and swear he would never come after us again would be turned over to the Overlord's gendarmes. Those who wouldn't talk or who wouldn't swear would be put to the sword. This assuaged my guilt a slight bit; the men had a choice as to whether to live or die, but there was a flaw: The best men would remain loyal, and would die.

Convinced that I had done all I could for the men, and with a course of action for the morrow, I was ready to head back upstairs to finish washing my wings and get some much-needed rest. Carmen, Sans Quah, and Aleurin returned from dropping off some of the girls at their homes in seedier neighborhoods of Riddleport and were appalled at the state of things. I let Saul and Vorne explain the circumstances to them; I was not decent company at that moment.
Once we were back upstairs in our room, Vorne and I finished washing my wings as we discussed the spell with the bracelets and other matters.

Finally cleansed as much as was possible, I dressed in my now-mended silks, knelt at our bedside, spread my wings, and prayed to my mother to provide me guidance in finding a paladin to save the souls of the poor men downstairs.

Direct quote from the IM session: "Mother, if you are listening, please hear me! We have men who are doomed to die on the morrow if we do not judge them worthy of redemption, and I am not powerful or wise enough to make this judgement! I have been gifted...<Please don't interrupt, Vorne!>... with one more day of life for these men. I need a paladin or another guide who can judge these men wisely. I will go to the temple tomorrow, to beg guidance from the priest. If you know of any who might aid our cause who can be here on the morrow, please give me a sign in my dreams. Thank you, Mother. I love you. Oh, and you will be happy to know I am courting a human! A real human wizard named Vorne! He is very sweet! I can't wait for you to meet him!"

My prayers complete, Vorne and I retired. I do not think I lay in bed 30 seconds before falling sound asleep. The events and stresses of the day had sapped me completely.

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Leilani Silverfalls, aasimar Life Oracle
(Journal from first part of October 5 game)

This journal entry is very different, scratched with a crude pen, and the paper is dirty and has mudstains and wrinkles on it.

I arose in the morning with grim determination: I would find a paladin in Riddleport! My mother had provided me with no guidance, so I decided to start off at the temple of Cayden Cailean and work my way out from there; surely any paladin passing through Riddleport would need a beverage to dull his or her sense of indignation at the state of this foul city! After the assault of the previous evening, none of us felt safe venturing forth alone, and so the entire group came with me save Aleurin, whose whereabouts I did not know. For the first few minutes, at least, it was pleasant to have Sans Quah, Carmen, and Alderan accompanying us on our travels through the city.
Apparently, the gossip in the street was that some of the raiders were the Overlord's men. The Overlord vehemently denied this. I do not know why this was important at all, but apparently the group took it as good news, as it meant that the Overlord would not openly oppose us. I have to admit, I have no concept of politics, so the Overlord's involvement, non-involvement, or covert involvement is only of concern to me insofar as how it might affect me, my friends, and the Glorious Goblin. But I trust the others to know more of the importance of this matter, so I leave it to them to tell me what should be done.

First, we went to Findler's and sold off most of the brigands' loot (some party members kept some of the goods for themselves; Alderan had a particular fascination with the monk's shuriken that I found a bit disquieting). I must say that I get some grim satisfaction by defeating those who would do us wrong, taking their gear as fairly-won penance from them, selling it, and donating part of the proceeds to the temple. Our load lightened and our purses heavier, we moved on to the temple of Cayden Cailean.
We entered the tavern/temple and I spoke to Arnando Rolf directly; I explained that we had defeated a large group of Croat and Zincher's men, we had them prisoner in the basement of the Goblin, Saul planned on killing them all, and I was in need of a paladin to pass judgement on them.

You would have thought I had walked in and beheaded the man for the reaction it got! Sans Quah's eyes widened and his nostrils flared. Carmen stormed up and demanded to speak with me in private. Now. I refused, of course, citing the dangers of any of us going off alone or in pairs, and that even further infuriated her. Even Vorne seemed disappointed in me. Arnando admitted that he knew of no paladins currently in Riddleport, so I thanked him and we headed for the temple of Sarenrae. Or at least we tried.

Sans Quah openly revolted, demanding to know who had put me in charge. I calmly explained that no one "put me in charge", and if he had errands to run as well we would be happy to accompany him on them. This did not assuage his resentment in the least. Carmen was still seething and demanded once again to see me in private, and once again I told her that this would be unacceptable without suitable guards around us. In spite of their objections, they did not leave the group, and we proceeded in uneasy silence to the temple. I made my usual donations to the children and Brother Jhonas, checked in on Father Padrick and Mika, and purified Mumsy's food and the fountain. I took Brother Jhonas aside and asked him if he knew of any paladins in Riddleport and alas, he did not know of any, either. I asked for a properly-adorned scimitar to wield, but they had none, so I had to pick one up at Findler's.

I made a quick stop at the temple of Calistria to pick up a scroll of Instant Armor; never again did I want to risk my silks or my Dress by being unprepared for combat!
My final destination was the Cipher Mage academy. Perhaps the others believed I could do less harm there, or perhaps they were resigned that I would do what I would over their objections, but the walk was easier than the one to the temple had been. With Vorne's assistance, it was very easy to distract Alderan, meet with Samaritha, and go to the shop, where I purchased a fine quill in black with real gold trim, a quantity of the type of magical ink suitable for writing scrolls (in black as well), and several sheets of fine parchment. Samaritha's help in selecting the materials was invaluable, though in spite of my explanations as to Alderan's nobility and well-deserved earning of these gifts, she was still dubious as to his nature.
I had the shopkeep wrap the gifts and drafted a quick note:

I apologize for judging you so harshly. Your brave actions saved all our lives. Please accept these small tokens as gifts of my appreciation. You are clearly bristly on the outside, but noble on the inside.

My errands complete, I asked if anyone else had any errands they wanted to run, but no one did, so we returned to the Goblin. Once again, Vorne provided a distraction so that I could place Alderan's gift in his room. Once Vorne and I were alone, he started his gentle chastisement of me.
He explained that making it generally known that we had prisoners at the Goblin was very unwise, as there were many who would try to free them. Even worse was telling Arnando that they were to be killed; this way even normally law-abiding citizens might take up arms against us to free their loved ones. He was right, of course; I might have put ourselves or innocent people in danger with my flippant tongue. I tried to reassure him that Arnando was unlikely to tell anyone, but he pointed out that Arnando was in the business of passing on news, and I had not asked him NOT to tell anyone. Thoroughly abashed, I apologized to Vorne and promised I would be far more careful in what I told people about our doings. He smiled, hugged me, and pulled me down a bit so he could kiss me on the forehead and reassure me that he was not angry or disappointed, he just wanted me to be more careful. I realized that this was likely what had set off Carmen and Sans Quah as well, so I should meet with Carmen.

Steeling myself for her bristling tongue, I invited her to my office so we could meet in private. While I expected some anger or hostility, the venom that dripped from her took me aback. She called me an idiot, a moron, stuck up, incompetent, and clueless. She said I had no business managing the Goblin. All of these were perfectly acceptable, and flowed off me like water off a duck's back. But then she put in the dagger: She accused me of not caring, and of being unwilling to listen to others wiser than myself!
This hurt deeply. Everything I have done has been for the benefit of either the Goblin or the temple of Sarenrae, and I do not believe the two are in competition. I have actively sought counsel from those who know better. I held back stinging tears, and told her that I had no desire to manage the Goblin; in fact, I had tried to resign multiple times! I asked her whether SHE wanted to manage the Goblin, and she did not! I asked her what she would have me do differently, and she did not know. I pointed out that the Goblin was more important to me than to anyone else; all of them had other homes on this Plane; the Goblin was the only home I had, and I could not return to my own Plane! Once both of us realized that she was simply venting all of her frustrations at everything that was happening, the mood calmed a bit. She asked that from now on I let underlings do my negotiations for me. I readily agreed. She stormed out. She was still clearly angry at me, but at least she knew I would listen. And I hoped I had convinced her that I cared.

Vorne and I spent a pleasant afternoon together, while Carmen transformed the Goblin into a "battered angel" motif, putting fake bruises and bandages on the girls and adding bloodstains and tatters to the hangings. It was not to my taste, but I had promised Carmen I would listen, and listen I would. I wore my armor, shield, and sword to greet people at the door, and Carmen wholeheartedly approved.
In the early evening before we opened Saul came to us with news: His sources reported that Croat and Zincher had scheduled a secret meeting in the marshes just outside of town, and if we could approach them with stealth we might be able to listen in and learn something of their plans. If they had insufficient guards due to the number we had already defeated, we might even be able to capture them and end their threat!

I will admit I am perhaps the most naive member of our party. Yet even I was very skeptical of this development. Why would they meet in a swamp, rather than in a safe house? Why would they have insufficient guards? After a brief private discussion among the party members, we decided that we would go to the appointed site at the appointed hour, but we would go in force, well-armed, and expecting an ambush. Would Saul really betray us so? I prayed it wasn't true, but the circumstances were so odd I could not help but wonder about his true motivations.

We set forth well after dark, all in armor and carrying weapons. The scimitar felt awkward against my leg; I hoped I would not have to use it, as I had proved grossly incompetent with it in the past. As we walked, Alderan thanked me graciously for the gift. I knew there was nobility beneath his annoying exterior!
We crept cautiously into the swamp, Zokrim, Lian, and Sans Quah leading the way. We spotted the meeting when we were still perhaps a hundred feet out; a huddled group of men standing under a lantern in ankle-deep water in the swamp. Again, this was wrong. Why would they willingly stand in the water at night? Those with better eyes spotted shadowy figures in the reeds around the meeting. Guards? Ambushers? What was going on? We decided to approach slowly and see what we could see...

Leilani Silverfalls, aasimar Life Oracle
(Journal from the rest of the October 5 game)

This journal entry is very different, scratched with a crude pen, and the paper is dirty and has mudstains and wrinkles on it.

At that point a lone cloaked figure stood up from across the water, called out, "It's an ambush," and then put an arrow into one of the men under the lantern. The man fell in such a way that all of us realized he was a dummy; in fact, all of the "men" at the meeting had not moved, and we quickly realized we had been had! The other shadowy figures rushed forward, apparently in opposition to the first.
There was a great deal of confusion at this point. Sans Quah wanted to let the two parties fight it out and turned to leave. Vorne and I wanted to help the figure who had tried to warn us. Lian, Zokrim, and Taleck pulled out bows and started firing in support of our supposed ally. Carmen moved forward to attack, and Alderan moved himself into spell range.
The combat developed quickly: There were five wererats attacking us: two on our mysterious ally, and three on us. In a bizarre set of tactics, Lian and Taleck stayed behind us firing bows, while Carmen and Zokrim moved to the side to try to flank our opponents. Sans Quah took center and Alderan cast Magic Weapon on his earthbreaker, but then Sans Quah ran off to join Carmen and Zokrim, leaving Alderan completely exposed! I moved forward, shield at the ready, and placed myself squarely in front of Alderan, ready to defend him. In a warming display of camaraderie, Alderan stepped forward to stand side-by-side with me. If we were to fight hand-to-hand, we would do it together! Vorne was behind us, so there we were, all three casters, completely exposed, with all of the fighters either well behind us or off to the side in some sort of flanking maneuver.

Fortunately, it worked! The wererats had difficulty crossing the stream, and engaged Carmen, Sans Quah, and Zokrim without reaching us! Taleck gave up on his bow and charged into combat. Both Sans Quah and Taleck did significant damage to our foes in spite of their resistance to non-silvered weapons. Our mysterious benefactor held his own, though he was being wounded prodigiously. Vorne and Alderan started firing off force missiles to down the creatures.
Towards the end, one creature tried to flee across the "river" and Vorne brought him down, while Alderan brought down the remaining foe who was fighting our ally. I moved into the stream and channeled energy to heal everyone, including our new friend.

Once we had captured the wererats, we realized how pathetic they were. One of them carried a note in a strange "thieves' jargon" that Carmen could translate indicating that they had been offered indoctrination into the wererats' gang if they could kill us. In short, they were so pathetic they could not even join a gang without committing an act of murder, and they had failed at that!
One rat mewled pathetically for his life. He indicated that he had family in Riddleport, and was only trying to provide for them. I was swayed by his tale, but the blood in Carmen and Sans Quah's eyes indicated they were not. Alderan agreed with them that the rat must die, and of course Zokrim would not hear of mercy. Vorne suggested that we let the rat go, as he was obviously defeated and harmless, but the core group would have none of it. They judged the rat guilty, and planned to execute him. I expressed my distaste for this course of action, but I could not suggest a better one, so I was forced to turn my back on the pleading rat and walk away as they put an end to him. Few things in my long lifetime have been as painful as the sounds of his end. They will haunt my nightmares for years, I am sure. I busied myself healing our new ally as he approached.

The man who ambushed our ambushers turned out to be an elven ranger named Kwava. He was from a land I had never heard of, and his oracles had described a great blackness coming upon the world, and a lone elf standing against it, holding up a shining light against the darkness. And he believed he was that elf! Our prophecies were too similar for it to be coincidence! Here was my next lead! The man I should follow and help! And I would be his light against the darkness! My heart swelled in both anticipation and fear: What would happen if he took me away from Riddleport, and Vorne declined to accompany us? I had known Vorne less than three months, yet he was very dear to me, dearer already than many hounds I had courted for years, and I did not want to leave his side. But my duty, my existence cried out that I must assist Kwava in his quest, wherever it might take me! Even on this Plane, was duty to break my heart yet again?

As we spoke, he led us to his camp. We compared our stories. Kwava believed that Saul was hiding an evil elf that he was seeking. He had a description of the elf that matched Alderan fairly well, but both Kwava and Alderan assured us that he was not the quarry. My heart lightened at the news that his destiny so closely coincided with our goals: We clearly had to confront Saul, and only needed to decide on the means of our approach.

Carmen wanted to try subterfuge; to have her return from the ambush alone, telling Saul that I was sorely wounded in the swamp and in need of assistance, and we would lie in wait for him. None of us liked this plan, as it put Carmen at too great a risk; Saul had no reason to keep Carmen alive once he heard the news, and would either torture my whereabouts out of her or kill her outright and simply comb the swamp for me. Vorne liked the idea of returning to the Goblin as if nothing had happened, convincing Saul that the ambush had not occurred and making Saul doubt his allies.
Now that I knew Saul's duplicity, I disliked either plan; I wanted to perform a full frontal assault on the Goblin and take Saul to justice, dead or alive. We would obviously not harm the employees of the Goblin, but Saul himself was twice-damned by his actions in the past and the present (and this did not even include his association with devils), and I felt I could judge him guilty enough and irredeemable enough to be put down at this point.

After a great deal of discussion, we decided that we would go with a frontal assault in the morning, first trying to obtain some scrolls for me to assist in combating devils, and then moving in before Saul woke up.

I sat down on the horribly-uncomfortable mat that Kwava graciously provided to me, wrote in my journal for a while, curled up against Vorne, and tried to sleep. I am a bit jealous of his traveling lifestyle; I believe he was asleep within ten minutes of lying down, while I lay awake and uncomfortable for hours before finally succumbing to rest.

Leilani Silverfalls, aasimar Life Oracle
(Journal from the start of the November 2 game)

I awoke, stiff and sore, and greeted the sun, spreading my wings to catch its rays as I preened, sang, and prayed. My campmates apparently did not appreciate my singing at such an hour, and had me move a very short distance away and sing very quietly. As the others arose and Kwava graciously provided us with a very simple breakfast, we made plans.

I suspected that Saul was in league with Old Scratch, and would have more imps at his beck and call, as devil worshippers are nothing if not power-hungry. I suggested that I would need scrolls of Align Weapon and Spear of Purity in order to defend us against these abominations. I believe it was Alderan who pointed out that devils were also susceptible to silvered weapons, as were lycanthropes, so we might want to purchase some of those as well.
We knew that purchasing such an arsenal would immediately arouse suspicion, and we wondered how we might perform an anonymous purchase of these goods. Much to our great luck, or Sarenrae's great guidance, Aneurin reappeared, apparently searching for us in the swamp when we did not return in the evening. A noble gesture, though why it took him so long to find us is beyond me, though I must admit I have never tried to track a party at night before. I am sure it is quite difficult.

We handed Aneurin a large bag of gold and a shopping list, and in a mere couple of hours returned with the requested gear, though he informed me that no temple in Riddleport sold scrolls of Spear of Purity; apparently it was too "Good" a spell for such places! The only questions that arose were from the tavernkeeper/cleric of Cayden Cailean, concerned that Aneurin would try to use the scroll himself. With reassurances that Aneurin had no such inclinations, he obtained a scroll of Align Weapon and I was somewhat appeased. Taleck or Sans Quah with a good-aligned earthbreaker would certainly be more than a match for any group of imps!
We also obtained silver weapons for Aneurin, Alderan, Lian, and Carmen.

Before we set off on our cleansing of the Goblin, I asked to speak to the party. I reminded them that many of the guards and staff of the Goblin had worked with us for weeks; some of them had even fought at our sides. Hans and Beyer in particular had saved Alderan's life, and thereby who knows how many more of us, considering his subsequent actions?
I asked that with this in mind, our party not hold back in battle, but stay their hands before killing our fallen former allies.
However, there were those who had assaulted us once before under Croat and Zincher's banners, many of whom were now likely Saul's allies against us. These men were beyond my mercy, as they would have proven twice damned, and could be, and even should be, executed cleanly for their crimes.
The party seemed to appreciate that I was willing to condemn those who had twice assailed us, and perhaps this assuaged their bloodthirstiness somewhat, or perhaps they too felt some kindred spirit with our former co-workers, but I got the distinct impression they would try to leave our former colleagues alive, if possible.

We marched into town in force, Kwava with us in case the "evil elf" should show himself. There was no point in attempting to hide our approach; I am afraid that my silver hair, pale skin, height, and wings are all a bit too obvious to conceal in broad daylight. Certainly others stand out as well; I cannot imagine too many people mistaking Taleck for anything other than a Shoanti barbarian. So we strode forward confidently.

To my great fortune, many of my party members have much better eyes than I, and they spotted the sniper on the roof, the sneakabout among the columns, and the thugs at the door long before I did. There was a sign on the door indicating that the Goblin was closed for refurbishment.

We decided we would re-open the Goblin, and moved forward into view of the thugs...

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