The Rise and Fall of Glamorfell

the last year
pt 2.

The Last Year pt2.
“Seriously, suck it up, armor up those ovaries, and stab me.” Not exactly the words that one should probably say to a half-orc holding a sharp object, but nobody is perfect. Yelenya gasped as she got stabbed, there was a tug, and a clicking noise, and she got stabbed again. The process repeated for a while and then began again on the other side of her head. The earrings were a fairly simple design, a knot made of braided silver wire was poked through the front of her ear lobe and pulled through to spiral up her ear to where it would end in another knot. The tricky part was the carving of the rings that were spaced inside the wire. Each time they killed something that she felt was notable enough for a memento she took a little piece of bone or armor and when she had accumulated enough she had carved, as best she could, it into a ring shape and a little symbol of what had donated the object. Tuskgutter had a little piggy for instance. She had been a little dismayed at the preponderance of wolves, although she had gotten pretty good at carving them, and the kitty didn’t do the manticore justice, but she thought it was a rather striking look. The good news was that Sasha was actually a pretty good seamstress, the bad news was that it was over so soon. Dhavid came over to look at the limp form of the dhampir with her head in the half-orc’s lap and wandered off muttering about needing a drink and that he’d be in his bunk. Winter was boring. Staying in one place was boring. The test for her earrings had been a nose piercing, and she was tying to talk (nag) Kaede into getting her ears pierced. The fact that, so far, it had worked was encouraging. Or maybe it was just the chance to stab the normally unflappable elf. Winter was boring. Yelenya was a terrible seamstress, but she had made little stuffed animals for all the children within a two week ride. She was a horrible singer and an acceptable storyteller, but she had taken a turn babysitting every kid in town so that their parents could have a little time to themselves. She was a murderess, but crime was fairly low (suspiciously so in fact). She worked almost every waking hour at trying to make things better, because she could. She had time. Lots and lots of time. and after a whole three months she was bored. So, self harm it was. Still, she liked the look. As she lay on the bench Sasha picked up one of her braids and flicked her thumbnail against the pale bead at the end of it.
“The ones in your ears were all animals, this one has a man carved into it. How come?”
Yelenya smiled. "That was the Stag Lord. The rings are all animals, the beads are finger bones. Just a little something for me to remember them by. "

Bonelessly the dhampir stood and hugged the half-orc. It was time for Yellie’s dance lesson. She wasn’t going to miss that.

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the last year
pt 1.

The Last Year PT1.
The streets were actually getting busy, people were doing relatively well, and it was kinda quiet. Even if it was too bright out. The sunlight felt good on her skin, but the light was continuing to be an issue. Lady Vellara might have a few ideas about a solution to that one. She was a City girl. Yelenya was looking out over the town as she walked atop the walls, her bare feet feeling the stone, and gently bouncing Yellie as she sang (horribly off key) to the little girl. The occasional skitter-step or twirl usually drew a giggle or a laugh from the precious little thing in her arms. She had to be careful though not to dislodge too many stones, even one the size of her fist would pick up some speed on it’s way down. At least the view was nice, there was plenty of fresh air, and the sunlight felt wonderful.. even if it was too bright.. and they were fifteen feet in the air.
Yelenya had been trying, and succeeding to a limited degree, to get to know the folks who had been moving into her town. She liked halfling, although there were always individuals that managed to get on her bad side, and the ones here were pretty well definitely halflings. People should be what they are, no less, and try for more. Fortunately there was a common ground, they liked to celebrate the end of the day, and she loved to dance. A five or six nights a month she’d invite herself to a gathering and watch, and change diapers, and help cook food, and tell stories, but when it was time to dance she just couldn’t help herself. The dancing was different that what she was paid to do, less formal, and different that what she would do as a distraction, less… anyway, it was a celebration of life. For a dead person with a heartbeat that was one heck of a draw, and she loved it. There was always one or two who looked at her funny, as though there was something wrong with her for having eyes that glowed in the night, or having fangs, but she never tried to hide it. She didn’t care so why should they.
Yelenya, laughing with happiness, stumbled away from the crowd and collapsed onto the ground, her chest heaving as she tried to catch her breath. The nights were getting warm enough that she could dress down and still be comfortable. That meant a skirt and a top that left her arms and shoulders bare. The night wind on her bare skin felt wonderful and she stared up at the stars, wondering what was going on up there. Her nose brought her back to herself, kobolds had kind of a dry/musty smell to them. Even the ones that Sootscale had loaned her. She turned her head slowly so as not to disrupt her neckguard, she had made a few modifications and the silver coins laced into it would occasionally chime if she turned her head to fast. There were a pair of little red eyes in the shadows. She sighed.
“Hey, lady, are you going to tell us more stories?” The younger halflings were so cute.
“No sweetie, I have to go to work.”
“Are you going to come back next time?”
“I’ll think about it.” she teased as she took her bow and the quiver of arrows from where she had set them. The halflings were smart enough not to mess with her things, although a demonstration for the dumb ones was occasionally necessary. Properly equipped for work she followed the kobold.
“You’re sure they’re in there?”
“Yes Lady Sneaky-Stab, two tall folk, one with brown hair, one with blonde.”
Dealing with kobolds was occasionally taxing, but they were good at what they did. Yelenya reached into the shadows and scratched the little scaly creature under the jaw while she looked at the others in attendance. She occasionally had needs that could only be fufilled by a big strong man, like scaring the crap out of a few of the criminals that had wandered in. She disliked wasting a potentially useful resource, the bard that had paid them a visit last year would have been useful if he could be properly motivated.
“Wait for the signal, etcettera, etcettera.”
Akeros raised an eyebrow. “This isn’t the first time I’ve done this.”
“I’m aware, but I see new faces in the guards, and I like when everybody is on the same page.”
She handed her bow and quiver to a guard and climbed the wall to the vent window. The warehouses were all the same design, and a visit to the archetect had ensured that every one had windows that she would fit through. It was a tight fit in armor, nearly impossible with a pack and her quivers, but tonight she was distinctly… underdressed for the occasion. The men were discussing business matters. Apparently they had not gotten the memo she had put out, or they thought that it didn’t apply to them. Her rules were pretty simple, and any who abided by them were more likely to be in her good graces. There was always crime, and she had no issue with people making a living, but it was better to be organized. She disappeared into the shadows as she crept across a beam toward them, and then she really disappeared as she got closer. They might notice the dust that she was stirring up, but it was doubtful. She picked the larger of the two, he seemed to be in charge, and dropped on him like a sack of potatos. Her dagger flashed once across his throat and then she was latched on. His struggles weakened as she bled to death and she sucked the wonderfully warm blood down. The other man was frozen, terror on his face and piss soaking his pants. There were a few moments when she caught his eyes and stared at him, hopefully it would be enough. His screams were not pleasant as he ran for the door only to find Akeros kicking it in. She dropped the dying man and jumped at the screaming one, a perfect pounce before the end. Akeros caught her by the neck with one hand and held her there as she thrashed and snarled at the brown haired man. When an angle opened up she bent her head down and snapped her jaws shut on the guard captain’s leather gauntlet. Still gnawing on the heavy leather she heard Akeros give him the list of rules and a bill for the door, and tell the terrified man that if he needed help figuring out what the rules meant that he could stop by the office and someone would explain it to him. She waited until the guards led the man away before calming down. Akeros handed her a bucket and she managed to make it around a corner before she retched all the blood she had drunk back up. Akeros nudged the now dead man with the toe of his boot before handing her a bottle. The rather unsophisticated stuff that Wally brewed was terrible, but it did get rid of the taste of the blood, and she swished and spat a few times before downing half the bottle in one long pull. Drunk Dhampir’s were a hazard for everyone so she held off after that. Yelenya knelt beside the corpse and massaged his face until the terrified look eased, then she closed his eyes. A piece of silver in his mouth and a copper over each eye finsihed the preparations. She prayed silently to whatever god was listening, and prayed to Sheylin for forgiveness for herself. When she stood she was steady on her feet. She patted Akeros on the shoulder as she left, she trusted him to do a good job with the investigation. Home she lit one candle as she got ready for bed, more for the warmth than the light. She had moved some of her flowers indoors before she had left for the night and they perfumed the air. She caught sight of herself in the small mirror. She had forgotten to clean the blood off her face. As she slept she dreamed of the faces of all the people, of every species, that she had killed. Tonight had added to the list, it was far longer than she wished, but still she slept on.

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TBD
The Diary of Teret Feron

Once again, we step into a much larger world. Where a young man, worth no more than a private’s stipend, becomes a faithful companion, who swears his allegiance beneath a shaded flag of white and black. When this started, our aim was a tyrant, an abomination upon the land. We picked apart his people, removed each brick, then built our home in his fallen castle.
Now we face the same, every day is a needle pricking at us. Scraping away our patience, our resolve, pushing our dark desires to the forest. The Lebeda house would never have suffered refugees placing themselves upon their land, they would have slaughtered them. While I cannot wholly bring myself to applaud their methods, I can see their design. I cannot say it isnt effective, if brutal. We send a party to tilt against otherworldly beings, things we would engage ourselves, but cannot, lest our own walls crumble. Why, by Iomeade’s grace, should such things even BE here? In some way, small though it be, I understand the Stag Lord’s stupor when we approached him. The burden of command is one that snaps weaker steel in twine. Some, break worse, some deeper imperfection, exposed like a chink in the cleanest mithril suit.

I often find myself longing for the days when we could simply leave the merchant’s crumbling fort in the north, caring not what he thought or needed. He was easy to make the target of our blame and angst. These days, it is not easy by any means one could measure. We have people, many sycophantic, to whom we report. Our every action directed by the plebeian, “to whom do you give your gold m’lord?” Myself! You foolish mink. I step in front of some fire-spewing demon with a chain that tears limbs from body, shits ashes that burn the eyes, and you want to know to what I spend my gold on? A bath and a whore.

Very different these days. Now we face an ever widening responsibility. The scope of our mandate growing. I think the Sword Lords overstep themselves. Pushing our boundaries with no risk to themselves. Probing our ever growing list of enemies. An undead prince, lords of Tigers, a woman who whispers to beings who could tear our city down without a thought. I wonder what the color green holds for this…woman. It is more and more difficult to find proper motivation with each passing moon. Very different, these times.

Still, I find myself drawn to Varn’s Daughter. She is youthful, full of spirit. There is a brashness, but unexpected cleverness that invites me. It is invigorating in a way. I cannot quite name it, and I think, I do not wish to just yet. I will enjoy what I can, a fine meal, a patrol, and simply let it come to pass. I have earned no quarter in that department, and will expect none. Much more to that story, I hope, yes, even dour as the situation feels that there is still more pages in this diary to explore it. That it is not written yet, is something I will hold onto.

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Note / Journal from Wally to the Fey Tristessa
short and sweet, he's no poet.

Hey girl,

So I got some good news to report, though i reckon you already heerd about it. 3 more generations on the side of man! Challenge of the Fang? Check!

Seem strange to me there be so many talking wolves in this forest, appear to me they be in the majority, hell i ain’t seen a non-talkin wolf for months!

It was a fine victory for us tho- full of puzzles and tests of our temperment and such. Finally endin’ in us scaling up a walking treant and storming a hut….
Maybe you had to be there.
Then carving an old woman, still kickin!, from inside some kind of stomach pouch of a witch-wolf!

Speakin of which though, it was a pretty close call for this heer correspondant- but it coulda been worse! That old witch we done pulled out of the wolf-belly told me i got the lycanthropee. Explains why some’a my wounds were a little weepy and itchy. Anyhow, long story short, i been born anew in the old narlmarch! Sad day we couldn’t do the same for my buddy Kundal, he was suffering from the same ‘ffliction and out at all hours of the night assaultin’ them little halflings. But we gave him a hell of a send off!

You know I ain’t much for writin. But we goin’ be having us a big party soon – y’all should come on by!

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Wally's Journal
Retroactive 80's montage style

Staring up at the stars, Wally slowly exhales the smoke in his lungs, while whispering an echo to the question inscribed on the now-burnt note leaving his lungs. “What’s it all about?” he utters before drifting off to sleep.

The stars swirl and he finds himself looking at a wooded valley, the air thick with early summer insects and pollen. Disjointed rumbling precedes the covered wagon lurching into view; the blonde haired barbarian pulling at the reins while a confused horse meanders forward. The perspective flits up to a nearby tree bough with the hum of gossamer wings just in time to watch the wagon pass and head toward a group of tents in the distance.

The image blurs and reforms; now the same wagon is blocked under a shady copse of fur trees with the door open. The pollen and clumsy flying bugs have been replaced by heat and the sonorous hum of cicadas. Noxious odors, the clanking of glassware and occasional swearing emanate from within. A stones throw away sit a young woman and a male laborer around a small but stately table that has been covered with a lush red cloth. Upon the table an active harrow deck and some upturned cards. Suddenly there is a palpable BOOM from the wagon and an acrid smoke billows out. A girl half-elf and a pig, both singed, run squealing from the wagon.

Once again the scene fades and changes, this time to a deep winter’s night. The viewpoint is drawn hesitantly to a small house, where the forest has been largely beaten back. The eyes fly up to a lit window and peer in. Inside, on the hearth a large cauldron bubbles with soup. The wagon-driver is laying face down on the floor next to a younger boy, both repeatedly pushing themselves up with their arms and clapping before lowering themselves and repeating. In the far corner, the harrow-reader and an older but timid man busy themselves with rudimentary prestidigitation.

The images and scenes play out all night- all the while the town in the backdrop taking more and more ground.

Finally at daybreak, Ralla nudges Wally awake from his impromptu bed in the grass. “Hey, breakfast is ready.” He blinks awake “Girl, you look even better than you did in my dreams. Why’d you even wake me for, you got to take first dibs on them eggs since you eatin’ for two.”

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Year One, Glamorfell
The Diary of Teret Feron

With a lightened heart, having at least partially come to turns with the past he left behind, Teret Feron, now Glamorfell nobility, general to his prince’s army, sets his sights forward upon the horizon. The intervening year that has past did nothing to erode the unflinching and unquenchable spirit within. Though most days were spent assisting with order, he found plenty of time and necessity to see to the lands they were now claiming. Farms of the land, men, women and children; forging the destiny of the kingdom. Bulwarks suggested to the smaller settlements. Defensive training and basic drills for those who wanted it. Passing on the lessons learned with the defense of the ragtag outpost that was Oleg’s. The land would learn to protect itself, its people investing in what they would receive, taking pride. All the while, within him, he found himself changing. His loyalty, long to himself first, as his own master, now came to the land. To the people, he met, who lived as best they could, searching for their own freedom. He understood them on a very basic level, he had been them. Reaping and sowing the land, eking out his existence from the pile of mud he had started in. Somewhere in realizing this, what last little bit of his soul that held back from the Council, the Tetrarch that had formed at the heart of Glamorfell, fell away. He felt within him a renewed sense of justice, of honor. Purpose. Within him, as he had in younger years, he dedicated himself to his Lord, Sayd Krynn of Kaer Maga. His brothers and sisters — Walorin, Kaede, Yelenya — became his family. His circle. The intervening year changed him in ways he never expected, and with his 20th year marked on a calendar somewhere, he stopped being the selfish loner he was when thrust upon this scene. He grew up.

His correspondence took a different tone as well. No longer felt the need to send the friendly note, hoping to keep a fragile friendship intact. He now had spoken for hundreds, and then thousands. As a voice for the people, though he acknowledged, not the loudest, he spoke with a bit more tact. He kept relations with Varnhold, as it was established and flourished. He sent correspondence to his Lord Varn, and his daughter quarterly, suggesting that when the city of Foundlings Reach was of proper fit, he would ask for them, sp to visit, and take her on a tour of the countryside. To the Lady Lebeda, Elanna, he too wrote. Wishing her well in her future, hoping to maintain a dialogue. Though the language was not suggestive, he was not explicit in his language. He left things open ended. He kept his options open, knowing that his heart would find solace in his duty, his duty would be to his people. He would lead until his death, but he would seek to ensure his line.

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Letters

Sarenith, 4711

Akalina,

I’m sure your father is well informed about my history and character, but I wanted you to see it inked in my own hand, all the things I expect you to know before you come to Glamorfell.

There are few who know my origins, as I like it. I am from the city-state of Kaer Maga in the Varisian expanse, a place of magic, culture and excess. There are no cities like it in the east. The nearest approximation would be Absalom, where I have also lived extensively. I was born before your grandsire. I have seen and touched wonders beyond the most fanciful dreams of a little girl in the mountains.

I am no one to be trifled with. When I speak, I expect people to listen. I have little patience for insolence or ignorance. I am a loyal friend to those who trust me, but there is no deadlier or less forgiving enemy. My response to slights is amazingly disproportionate. I fear nothing.

I have led my life as a mercenary captain for many years now, most recently with the Black Cats. Together with them, I charted, explored and brought peace to the area of the Stolen Lands that I know hold rule over. Before that, I was a shadow broker, learning and selling secrets in the city of Daggermark.

Many men boast of accomplishments but there are few who have done what I have done. During our conquest of Glamorfell, the Black Cats overthrew several local kingdoms, including an army of mites led by King Grabbles and his storied tick-mount, Tickleback; the kobold kingdom of the Truescales, led by King Merlokep, who I bested in a contest of magic and slew, and the bandit army of the so-called Stag Lord, who had declared himself King as well.

I tell you this now because you will have two years of reflection before coming to Glamorfell. That period of time is a blink of the eye for me, but will no doubt be a significant period of growth for you. You must study the politics of Brevoy and beyond with due diligence, that you may rule my people when I am away. Learn the draconic tongue, as it is spoken by our nearest neighbors, the Sootscale Empire, a warren of kobolds that I brought from exile into power.

You are no doubt fantasizing about what your life will be like, whether I will make for a good husband and prince, whether I will take care of you, whether there is aught of interest in what is now still a backwater. Dream those dreams. When I was a child, I was marked as a demon by humans and cursed, and I longed for the strength to defy them. Now those same simpleminded folk bend their knee to me and beg for my protection and benevolence, in their flimsy tent city. There is power in dreams.

Sayd Krynn
Prince of Glamorfell

Sarenith, 4712

My Lord Josef,

The town of Foundling’s Reach has reached a population of nearly five hundred souls, with hundreds more living within the borders of Glamorfell, working our farms and mines. I had thought to send for Akalina Orlovsky within the year, when our castle was to be completed, but the construction has been delayed for some time now while more imminent threats are dealt with. Lady Kaede assures me that construction will begin soon. In the meantime we have built up our fortifications and housing as well as fundamental amenities for the populace, including dance halls and public baths. The people are quite content and hard working, a fact for which I should be thankful. We have recently seen an increase in beggar refugees, and they’ve even formed a small camp in our midst. My desire to see them driven off is tempered by a consideration for damaging optics. Our best workers are dwarves and halflings, the former people prone to a desire for orderly and lawful handling of affairs, the latter a culture steeped in compassion for the unfortunate.

Privately, I hear the call of the rolling hills and of the dense Narlmarch Forest, which lies just beyond our borders. I hunt and swim and walk the woods, and listen politely as Erastil’s priest urges for the safety of the community, but I long for the thrill of strife. It has been too long since we have seen you, too long since the Black Cats descended into the dark ruins in search of glory and treasure. You no doubt feel it, too.

My role in rulership so far has been taxing. I meet endlessly with merchants and artisans who are eager to set up shop in town, but worry about our level of infrastructure. Yelenya often does the same, using her network of whisperers to plant disinformation and rumors designed to spur our economic growth. If we’re not doing that, we’re working with Teret, Walorin and Akiros to make sure our governance and our community is on stable ground. All of our civic planning is handled by Kaede and Vagda, a humorously matched pair who see amazingly eye to eye on many topics, although Vagda is clearly motivated by the needs of the people, especially our dwarven population, while Kaede is nearly ruthless in pursuing her own personal vision for efficient growth. We are fortunate to have them. I do wonder if their planning of so many diversions, from bathhouses to dance halls, is merely to pacify any misgivings I might have about the level of industry the people are being forced to commit to.

The kobolds, mites and trolls present our nearest opponents. My intention is to ally with the former to destroy the latter. While the kobold’s culture is no doubt repugnant to some on my council, I understand them well, and they me. Like me, they respect power more than philosophy.

I eagerly await construction of a grand library in our territory, which Kaede expects within the next year. It will afford me many opportunities for research and study.

I hope all is well with you. Take care of your Lord Varn, and send him our warmest regards.

Sayd Krynn
Prince of Glamorfell

Sarenith, 4712

From the Desk of Woodrow Hinderbound, Royal Attorney

My Lord,

I look about the town of Foundling’s Reach and can hardly believe how much progress we have made in just a year. My role as Prince Sayd’s attorney has afforded me endless opportunities to craft and practice law—though I have little doubt my counterparts within our neighbor’s courts distrust a servant of Asmodeus. It’s a shame, really. I fervently believe that if I could just speak freely to the people, I’d be able to open their eyes to their inferiority and show them their place at the feet of our god. It is inadvisable, however. Many are the times the Prince has commanded me to keep my tongue in check, and he is right to do so. The priests of Erastil and Torag watch me like hawks, though I have found common cause with the priestess of Sarenrae, who, like the Prince, is open minded.

I do find it vexing that Glamerfell has outlawed slavery. I am well paid for my time and effort and could probably afford to own a person or two. A young elven woman, perhaps, would make me smile, although it would no doubt be prohibitively expensive to acquire one. Still, can you imagine the exquisite tragedy of such a graceful creature spending her long life in chains? I make do with a few petty servants, who are well aware of what I expect from them. Their contracts contain some riders that they signed without any reflection at all! Sadly, I can hardly enforce some of the more bizarre punishments that the contract calls for, as Lady Kaede would no doubt be made aware. The Lady Yelenya has spies on me night and day, so much does the rest of the council hold trepidation at my responsibilities.

In short, we must make gold with the hands we are dealt. I am rising in power and prestige and genuinely enjoy my work, and I am quite happy to help the Prince, who is strong and morally flexible, if perhaps a poor judge of things. I see my role as to advise him, to help his influence and power spread and, in so doing so, aid myself, as well. He seems to trust me, though he is loathe to make any agreements with me regarding future titles and responsibilities. I am grateful for the small foothold I have, of course. It is not any kingdom in the east who will even permit the Lord of the Pit’s servants—poor fools—let alone allow one into a position of authority.

It is often hard to believe that I am here, given that but a year and a half ago I was offering my services to a disgusting rabble of bandits. The Prince saved me from that situation. Despite what his friends might think, he has my sincere allegiance.

Yours in Darkness,
W.

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Heavy Hangs the Crown

Says spends the first two years of Glamorfell’s rise, to everyone’s amazement, by being a model ruler.

As the tent city comes up, he gets down in the trenches and works with the common people and farmers. Sayd is often seen with Woodrow, Lady Vellara or Kaede, at his side, listening to their plans and concerns with a thoughtful expression.

By night, Sayd entertains the nascent populace with incredible displays via Silent Image, helping to break up the weariness of toil.

Sayd’s first agenda is to get to know the other council members. He is particularly interested in Vagda, the dwarven priestess of Torag, and does his best to cultivate a good relationship with her. He mends old wounds with Jhod over time, not by apology but by consistently showing wisdom and a strong work ethic while the priest is around.

Sayd makes an effort to attend the prayer services and events for all the settlement’s religions. He gets to know Tu-An well and appreciates her counsel, but takes advice from Jhod and Vagda and Kalkamedes as well. He also has Yelenya’s shrine to Shelyn moved to the new capital.

As the town proper begins to form, Sayd turns his constant attention to reading tracts and histories about rulership and governance and does everything he can to learn about the politics of the region. Many are the nights when he, Kaede and Vellara are the last ones awake, pouring through documents and discussing the matters of the age. He reads whatever he can find on the fey with equal fervor.

As the castle is constructed, Sayd oversees Woodrow’s diplomatic efforts, helping him reach out and establish relations with all the nearby neighbors. He also makes frequent personal visits to the Sootscale Caverns, where he continues to develop his strong relationship with Chief Sootscale.

Daily Activities: Getting to know the council members, hunting, helping with construction, seeing to the needs of the populace, going to worship services, seeing to diplomatic and espionage needs.

Nightly Activities: Studying politics, lineages and the history of nearby areas with great interest and diligence, partying with the local populace, planning the next stages of development.

The least he has done: Established friendships with every council member and religious leader in Glamorfell, become very close with Woodrow and Vellara, studied knowledge (nobility) relentlessly, learned the local lore of the area.

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are we there yet...
We're all a little mad down here...

(I wrote this at 0215 so if it seems a little odd, please bear in mind that I’m frigging tired.)

“Ok, that’s going to be a problem, you can’t just eat the dwarves.” Yelenya hadn’t expected this conversation to go well, but this was getting irritating.

“Sayd decided that we need all the help that we can get, and part of that help includes dwarves. You ever deal with a dwarf? They’re loud, grouchy, arrogant, and oblivious. They make great frontline soldiers, as long as the front line doesn’t move too fast, and they are good at defending territory. Basically they make great cannon fodder while sneaky people murder the attacking force.”

Chief Sootscale looked angry, fortunately Pirrak didn’t have much to say. Yelenya let go of Pirrak’s snout with one hand and held it up in a calming gesture.

“I know, I’m betting that you feel slighted that we aren’t willing to treat you as expendable assets and just get your people killed needlessly, It must really irritate you that I came here asking to borrow some of your boys, a half dozen or so to start so that I can keep an eye on the Brightlanders.”

She could see that she had his attention and lowered her right arm, letting the sleeve fall over her silver dagger. She knew that he wouldn’t forget about it, but if it gave him cause to put down the axe…

“We will talk.”

Yelenya grinned.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________

“So, how was your trip?” Yelenya looked up from where she was making faces at the baby. She was entertaining her… niece,,, while Svetlana was doing all the things that she had trouble with while taking care of the baby. In this case, taking a bath. Yelenya kept her gaze mostly averted.

“Not too bad, I think that I got the help that I’m going to need later. I am however going to have to start actively recruiting before things here get too hectic. Less work and more play, who was watching the little angel while I was away?”

“Wally volunteered, and did ok, until Ralla got the wrong idea. She thought that maybe Wally and I had… I explained that that was very unlikely to happen, I am happily married, and that if I had cheated on my husband you would probably be furious it wasn’t you.”

“How’d she take that?”

“It took her a moment, and then I had to point out you tendency to chase anything in a skirt. And why the workers that are showing up get very polite when you’re around.”

Yelenya giggled. Kids brought out her protective instincts, even if they’d never be hers.
With a few sniffs warning she changed Yellie’s diaper and went back to making funny faces at her.

“You’re pretty good with kids, how come you don’t have any of you’re own?”

“I have Sayd, and now a whole country, to help grow up.” She smiled happily, “The first time i changed a diaper I was kinda grossed out… that was… 95 years ago I think.” She grew slightly more serious, “For a while there I was far less picky about who I took to bed, or a carriage, haystack, barn, you get the idea. I’ve only preferred women exclusively for twenty or so years. In all that time I never once came close to having a baby. I heard that if, and it is extremely rare, I ever do get pregnant then the baby will be born human. Heh, can’t even perpetuate my own species. Doesn’t that just suck.”
____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Spring was coming on slowly. Way too slowly. Irritatingly slowly. The Stag Lord’s fort was crowded, although there was space to be had. No one wanted to go into the basement if they didn’t have to.

Sayd climbed down the ladder and carefully looked around. She had already snapped once and that was usually enough, but it had been a long mostly violence free winter. And that was never a good thing where a dhamipr was concerned. He cleared his throat, his Varisian was a little rusty but that was all she had spoken in the past few weeks.

“Are you still mad at me? I did what I thought was best…”

He had to admit, the glowing eyes in the dark would have been terrifying. Worse was actually being able to see her stalking him. And she was growling. The last person she had growled at like that was that kobald skank. He almost smiled at the memory. Almost.

“You knew this would happen to me. That I’d start thinking like this…” The whisper of a voice.

“I needed someone that I could count on. I didn’t think-”

“no, you didn’t. Leave me alone.”
____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Yelenya stood at the edge of the woods. It was a long shot, but she accepted that. There was a freshly slain deer resting on a tripod made of branches behind her. She was so focused on what was around her that she could hear the slow drip of blood into the waterskin she had placed beneath it’s neck over the wind. The smell was pretty strong, but there was an undercurrent of fur and old dried blood, barely perceptible. There was silver arrow on the bowstring but her cloak was covering that. If if was who she hoped it was then it may be necessary. Her heart beat was steady, her breathing easy, she stood on the balls of her feet. She could make out the shaggy muzzle and an angular shoulder in the twilight. Run, fight, hide, take a chance, she was dancing on the razor’s edge, completely relaxed, at peace. She didn’t try to hide her fangs as she smiled. Sayd wanted a completely loyal guardian. He was going to get an absolute monster.

“I brought dinner, sweetie.”
____________________________________________________________________________________________________

These were set in no particular timeframe although they are in chronological order. The last one is in the spring before we restart playing and obviously is Yelenya trying to recruit Jeva to her budding organization, and an hint of her mental changes. The first one is Yelenya going to visit King Sootscale to deliver the mushrooms that were collected from the sewers (she paid some people to do it, then bought them baths afterward.) and trying to recruit a few kobalds to help keep an eye on things. The second one follows the first immediately, and is the first time that Yelenya and Yellie get to spend time together. Even in Varisia dhampir are kinda rare, so even Svetlana doesn’t know everything that there is to know about them. The second to last one is my portrayal of how, according to what I’ve read, dhampir get obsessed with something, in this case it’s how Yelenya is rather upset with Sayd due to the fact that she’s feeling rather… maternal about the country that we are starting. This was a girl who, when she was rather young (considering her life expectancy) adopted a kid and did her best to raise him. While she doesn’t always agree with what Sayd says or does, she does feel the need to protect him when she thinks that he needs it. Once she becomes “locked in” on the country she’s likely to burn the rest of the world to ash to protect what she thinks is hers. Yep, that’s one way to ensure her loyalty. And to make sure that she doesn’t snack on too many of the inhabitants. (remember: it’s only cannibalism if you’re the same species.)

I also wanted to do a Wally/Yelenya thing, kinda a buddy cop thing starring Deter and Hannibal Lecter, with a lot more humor. But I fell asleep at the kitchen table, so I am going to bed now.

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The Stolen Prince

From the journals of Josef Akulov:

“…it was around this time that Sayd’s obsession with the Whispering Queen became clear. I often noted him staring silently at the pages from that strange book, the ones that look like a wood-cut fairly tale, for long periods of time, lost in thought. He spoke began speaking of wish fulfillment and bargains and fey contracts, puzzling through how we could approach this Duchess of Hoarfrost or even the Whispering Queen herself and perhaps treat with them. He asked myself and Kaede about the fey frequently, listening to what legends and tales we knew, seeming entranced by them.

It was only later that I heard the tale of the Singing Tree from Teret, of how he, Walorin and Sayd had slain the mythic creature, and how it turned into a porcelain white statue of a beautiful woman holding an apple. The story reminded me of something I had heard long ago, about how when certain creatures die, their essences are bound up into such things. I asked Sayd about it. He told me he had sensed the apple was amazingly powerful but that its magic was fleeting, and he bit it heedless of the risk. How since then, he could feel the energy of the forest inside him, the cries of the birds, the stalking or predators.

For our purposes I will call this the Apple of Discord, because I believe it holds the key to Sayd’s predicament. It was after he ate it that his fascination with the fey began. And it was after he ate it that his demonic attributes slowly began to temper. I recall seeing him one morning and questioning whether his horn had always been so small. A few weeks later, it was gone entirely, his tail, too.

I asked him about it and he dodged the question, an almost guilty look on his face, clearly knowing something he refused to let on. He seemed glad that the horn and tail were gone. He looks just like a human now, albeit possessed of an otherworldly beauty. His green eyes still flare with light in moments of emotion, but one could easily miss it. We all remember the morning he woke up screaming, saying that he had been “stolen” by some other power, before finally admitting it was just a nightmare. And since that time, I have oft seen him staring at reflective surfaces before turning away in shock…"

From the journals of Woodrow Hinderbound:

“Of all of them, I admire Sayd Krynn the most, although he is incredibly unwise and lacks any commitment to agreements or promises. He is possessed of a nearly sociopathic boldness and ignorance of danger, coupled with a warm and charming personality. A natural leader. When I first met him, I was immediately struck by his clearly demonic nature. Had I to guess, his fair countenance and only minor visible demonic attributes suggest his blood bears the mark of an incubus or succubus in the family tree. Curious. Demons are of course the least trustworthy of all beings, creatures of pure and raw greed and spite. Yet when I next met him, at the battle that ended my employment with the Stag Lord, his horn and tail were gone. At first I thought he had merely disguised them, but after speaking with some of the others I realized that is not the case.

There are only a few things that could permanently alter one’s appearance so. Unless someone deliberately polymorphed him, then I must agree with Josef’s speculation. The very nature of the magic in his blood has been changed somehow.

I watched as he took a lock of green hair, a valued possession of the Stag Lord’s and wove it into his own hair. It was an exceedingly curious thing to do, especially considering what Josef and Kaede mentioned, that this article is some kind of token of some First World monarch. Yet so skilled is he at deflecting questions with an easy smile, that no one seems to be paying attention to what is clearly strange behavior…"

From the journal of Theron Shadeslip:

“…I found him in a grove, just as they told me, him kneelin’ by a mirror pool and lookin’ all pale at his reflection, like he been talkin’ to it. I tell him what he needed to know. I came ta him lookin’ like an owl, smoking a cigarette, tell him I’s here ta help, that I ken tell him things he need ta hear. That he’s my master, now.

He thinks his soul’s been stolen, an maybe he’s right. He been enchanted by powerful juju, and no lie. But I ken tell he thinks it’s all fer some grand purpose, that he’s a pawn in some fey scheme. Tha truth is, he ain’t stolen. Naw, he’s the one that stole somethin’ from the wood, ate a piece a’ the wild that tweren’t meant fer mortal people. An’ now it’s in ‘im, growing, changing him. Makin’ his senses more acute, his heart more carefree, his soul more mischievous, that’s all.

He afraid tha demon in him’s gone, that he’s weaker for it. But I wouldn’t serve no weak master. The elders from my village were right. I can feel the mark a greatness on him. He jes needs someone to whisper secrets in his ear, and that’s something I ken do."

From the journal of Sayd Krynn:

“The magic of my blood has been unraveling for months now, reforming into something else. I felt it when it happened, when I ate that apple, but I thought it was merely new power, the flood of the wild rushing into me. It’s not. The magic is reshaping who I am.

I can hear the moaning of the earth when I lay down at night. And Theron, who knows many things, sought me out…

The power I feel is immeasurable. When I was young, I always possessed talents, what the scholars said were magic. To me, they felt innate. I knew they came from the same place as my horn. From my blood, from something inhuman in it.

Whatever that apple did, it broke down the barriers of what my magic can accomplish. I feel as though I can do anything, if I merely wish it. The fabric of magic itself is before me, like a grand tapestry. I catch glimpses of it, a lattice of light more beautiful than anything the waking eye could ever see.

I am not sure if what I have seen in the Stolen Lands are illusions or reality. Did the Whispering Queen really steal my soul, or was it just a dream? Have I made a bargain with her? I even begin to question the words of that Calistrian priestess who told me of my life. I was stark mad with fever when I spoke to her, and Bokken didn’t recall seeing her at all. Could she have just been a vision? And if so, was the wild story she told merely nothing but a fantasy of my addled mind?

What I know is this: when I look in the mirror now, I see myself, but with ivory skin, black hair, and red eyes. And the look on my face is always one of painful disbelief, as though I had done that other me some incredible injustice.

What that means, I do not know. But it feels real. As though I am looking at a duality of some kind. As though I have done myself injury, but I know not why. I can sense that the Dark Me is sensitive, frightened, and thoughtful. He is someone I would befriend. Yet, I can see in his eyes that he will never be friends with me. Because I will burn the stars. Because I have no use for fear.

I call him, the Dark Me, the Stolen Prince. It is what he looks like to me, a part of me that was taken. Noble and lost, forlorn but not forgotten. When I am King of the Stolen Lands, that will be my title. It is the only kindness I can pay to the man in the mirror, the man I sacrificed to become Sayd Krynn. I would do it again."

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