The Rise and Fall of Glamorfell

A Dirty Job
Kaede and Yelenya search for survivors

Even to Kaede’s keen eyes, Yukimura was a distant speck against the tapestry of the night sky, tracing a slow circuit high above the ruins of the Still Tower. Through her empathic connection to him, she could detect a mix of both focus and disgust.

The rest of the Inner Council was occupied with the responsibilities of their stations. Baylin was being debriefed by Akiros and Gilelle, and preparing to inspect the ranks of the forces he commanded — a custom that Kaede thought was curious and superfluous, but Teret always impressed upon her how important it was for morale, so she accepted it. Walorin was busy maintaining cultural relations by celebrating victory with their kobold allies. Sayd was with Maegar Varn, no doubt availing himself of the opportunity to ply the other kingdom’s leader for information, and to strategize about the current political situation in Brevoy.

That left the dirty work to Yelenya, as always. So Kaede accompanied her, and the two of them moved across the landscape like a pair of ghosts, pausing briefly atop the cliffside to survey the field. The source of Yukimura’s disgust was quickly apparent, and at the sight of the carnage below, Kaede took a sip of Stillgut from a vial tucked in her sleeve — even a finely-honed discipline of stillness and balance would be taxed this evening. She absentmindedly offered some to Yelenya, without noticing if she partook.


As expected, the assault on her senses was nearly overwhelming. Bodies were rent limb from limb, where they were not simply melted or burned beyond recognition. The ground was slippery with blood. The acrid smell of the kobold’s chemical attacks hung low in the air, and it made Kaede’s skin itch. There were no survivors to be found on the field, nor any remains of the Mivonese commanders.

In the midst of overturning another particularly grisly corpse to look underneath, Kaede felt a touch on her arm — Yelenya had found something. Off in the distance, and partially-hidden behind a copse of trees, was a cave in the side of the cliff, with a faint trail of blood leading towards it. Kaede nodded to her companion, and they moved with speed to investigate.


What they found inside was Derren Lebeda, on the ground, breathing shallowly and barely clinging to life. He must have dragged himself here in the midst of the fighting after the ranks of the undead broke. His armor — which no doubt saved him — was a ruined mess, and Kaede carefully peeled it back to bind his wounds while Yelenya fussed with her wand for magical healing.

It was a near thing, but they stabilized him, though he remained unconscious and muttering feverishly under his breath. Kaede extended her hair to full length, wove it into rudimentary litter, and Yelenya helped lift Derren into it.

“Well,” Kaede said, “this would be easier if he kept himself in better shape, but I can manage. We haven’t a moment to spare, so I’ll get him back to camp for proper healing and meet you there. Perhaps when he wakes he can help us find Clotilde, whatever her fate. I’ll leave the rest to you, but don’t take too many chances without me, chiisana kage.”

With that, Kaede lifted off the ground, and flew towards moonlight and the exit, with Darren in tow.

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The Price of Victory
Kaede's letter to Emiko Lin

To Emiko Lin:

Greetings, Honored One—

My report is delinquent, terribly abbreviated, and a patchwork mélange of both heroism and villainy. In short, more or less like life in the Stolen Lands generally.

I shall lead with the good news: the Troll Kingdom armies were defeated in the shadow of the Still Tower, at the hands of the combined forces of Glamerfell, the Sootscale Kingdom, and Mivon (with a timely assist from Varnhold). While that battle raged, a surgical strike made by the principals of the Glamerfell Council into the heart of Bronzeshield Fortress managed to decapitate its leadership, claiming the lives of both Hargulka and Vaga, while turning the newly-reincarnated Tartuk to our cause. Thus was one threat to Society in the Stolen Lands completely eliminated, and another severely curtailed.

Alas, victory turned to ash, quite literally. The Still Tower and its secrets were reduced to rubble in the battle, though I managed to rescue several important Elven artifacts before the first arrow flew. Also, Bronzeshield Fortress has been completely destroyed, and I emphasize “completely”, as only a vast pool of bubbling lava now marks the place where it once stood. I must take full responsibility for the latter, and I regret my involvement in the destruction of many important historical relics, though there is a credible report from extraplanar beings that the Fortress has been reconstituted elsewhere. I’ll follow-up with any additional information on this subject as I am able to verify it.

Fortunately, we were able to gather together the Trolls and Truescale Kobolds that did not perish in the fighting. We’ve placed Tartuk in charge, and intend to try to integrate them into our society as best we can, as time and resources permit. History shows that this more likely to result in blood and tears than anything else, particularly given long-standing racial grievances, but we are duty and honor-bound to try, and Glamerfell’s diversity is its best chance of success.

Finally, with respect to the hags: Vaga is dead, as mentioned, and only Toboura remains of the original three. I suspect that she will soon join forces with Nana Applebaum, if she has not already, and they will seek a third to reconstruct the coven. We still do not know what their purpose is in the Stolen Lands, or to whom they pledge loyalty. I do know that my intention is to grant them a close-up view of my unsmiling visage as their last conscious memory before I personally speed them to Muravelara.

As always, I am your faithful servant,

-Kaede

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narrative denied

Every once in a while there’s an unexpected result that leaves metaphorical egg on everybodies face. These things just happen. This one, on the other hand, was a whopper. Not exactly something that could just be shrugged off. For one thing, there wasn’t a Bronzeshield Fortress any more. There was, in it’s stead, a brand new lake of lava. Oops didn’t quite cover it. Nope.

Getting into Bronzeshield was something of a hassle. The tunnel that we chose was about 300 feet long. I just jumped off and floated down. The rest of the group ended up getting ferry ride from a celestial unicorn Imro summoned. I’ll pass thanks. I don’t exactly get along with most gods, or their servants. The tunnel brought us to a room, where eventually we
ended up fighting Karggadd. One of the lieutenants of Trollbold, we snuffed him and a whole bunch of his buddies, and one of his kids. The other one started following me and Imro around until Imro cast a Daylight spell on him and scared him off. He’s probably a small piece of charcoal now, which doesn’t particularly amuse me. I was a little bit worried that the holy rollers in the group seemed to think that this was anything other than an extermination and assassination job. It’s not like there was anything else we could call it. Murdering someone in their own home isn’t exactly heroic. In a fit of whimsy I had suggested diverting a river into the hole and letting everybody drown. That got shot down pretty quick. For the most part, things went relatively well, I actually managed to get a look around without having to deal with the brass band following on my heels. There’s nothing quite like sneaking up on some poor little munchie and having it completely messed up because somebody can be heard from fifteen miles away walking along right behind you. But I’m not annoyed about that. We ended up in a stand off with more schmucks, shortly after which we had to retreat back upstairs. Baylin did a good job of holding the stairwell against a giant honking trollhound. Wally, who for reasons known only to him is calling himself Chief T, managed to block a doorway rather creatively. I mention them because I ended up needing a bit of help after running into a mimic-thingy. I had found some jewels and a few potions in secret compartments, so I was expecting a more normal trap. Got that one wrong. Sayd and Imro got me out of that one, or was it Jubilost? I forget. I managed to kill the big trollhound, but before that Wally was fighting Namdrin (who was mind-controlled again). Wally pulled his punches, which means the dumbass just managed to flatten his head instead of knocking it into his pelvis. We collected up Namdrin’s gear, so if we couldn’t get him resurrected we can at least give his things to his wife. I suppose it’s better than nothing. A bit short of keeping him alive though. Sneaking about the fortress was actually fairly easily done, with one exception, a dwarf clanking around on my heels is a non-starter when it comes to ACTUALLY BEING SNEAKY. But I’m not mad. I did manage to find bunch of stuff to help with rebuilding of the kingdom, but that is currently a part of our new volcano, so it was a waste. Hargulka was hiding in the forge room with a bunch of his followers, and there was also a couple of what I’m told are salamanders from the elemental plane of fire which helped us out. Hargulka and his buddies went down like chumps after a fairly short fight. Tartuk and the rest of the surviving trolls and kobolds joined us. After we skedaddled out of there we took a few minutes to get ourselves sorted out. Tartuk and I were placed in charge of the new additions. There was a bit of a brouhaha trying to get things moving, but I managed to diplomatically get things sorted out with the help of a dwarven hammer. I put the kobolds and the trolls to constructing a fast bulwark and ditch for defenses and got latrines sorted out. That was the biggest stumbling block. Once that got sorted out we were very short on rations. You can make tea using pine needles, so I set about doing that. There was a slight issue with the lack of drinking vessels, but some people were ok to double up. The morning was a complete mess. I did get put in charge of the trolls, which was not a problem, and then got them taken away less than a hour later when Sayd decided to do the exact opposite of what I recommended. The major issue that I had with Sayd’s plan was that it creates an immediate divide and keeping unsteady forces that far from the capitol, where they don’t have to opportunity to socialize with others is a major mistake. I found myself seriously debating taking the offered governorship of this area. The likelihood of getting proverbially cut off at the knees is nearly certain, but if I want to actually do something for the “monsters” around here, this may be my first real chance.


excerpt from “A Miserable Accident: The formation of a kingdom” the collected memoirs of Yelenya, gathered by Jubilost Narthrople.

(ed: the extant copies of this book were proscribed for heresy and destroyed. there was one copy in Lady Kaede’s library that disappeared. members of the church and nobility later started suffering accidents on a daily basis.)

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The Fall of Bronzeshield Fortress
Kaede causes the literal fall of a fortress

“Are you sure about this, fledgling? Your flock is with you, but only just barely, and you have no idea if this mad plan will even work”, said Yukimura, shifting anxiously back and forth on his perch upon Kaede’s shoulder.

With audible effort, and between ringing strikes with her fist, Kaede replied, “I am not sure, Master.”

SLAM

“…but circumstance works against us…”

SLAM

“… Olaf has already destroyed the Anvil…”

SLAM

“… Applebaum narrowly evaded my grasp…”

SLAM

“… and I cannot let Vaga reunite with Toboura…”

SLAM

“… to re-establish the coven and endanger us all…”

CRACK

At that last sound, Kaede paused a moment, chest heaving with exertion, her hair plastered to her forehead with sweat. “Well,”, she said, “it appears that dwarven steel is not completely impervious. Let me take a moment to gather my strength before we continue”. Kaede’s hair wove itself into a rudimentary hammock, wrapped around a nearby chain link, and she sat upon it, eyes closed and cross-legged with hands on her knees.

“I can feel the will of Droskar, weak as it is, through this gauntlet. It desires the destruction of this symbol of Torag.”

Yukimura would have frowned, if a bird could do such a thing.

“But I cannot concern myself with the squabbles of the gods. My priorities are the material needs of people I’ve sworn to protect. If Glamerfell does not survive, neither will the hard-won freedom of its inhabitants. The hags must be stopped if we’re to have a chance”. After another moment’s pause, Kaede opened her eyes, hooked an arm and leg around the topmost chain link, and spoke: “We continue.”

SLAM


As the last spire of Broneshield Fortress disappeared beneath the bubbling lava, Yukimura shook his head from side to side. “Is this what you wanted, girl? Your goal achieved, but at the cost of maximal destruction? You make Hargulka’s point for him. Featherless fools, creating trouble for everyone.”

Kaede sighed. "No, this is not what I wanted. In truth, I would not have traded the fortress for the life of a single hag. But what’s done is done, it could not have been foreseen. Sayd will find a way to make it right.

I must say, however, that it might be time for me to re-evaluate my opinion of ‘dwarven engineering’, such as it is. The failure of a single link in the chain, to cause the complete collapse of the entire structure? Preposterous. You’d expect at least one redundant system to buttress the platform. At least everyone managed to escape, and we kept the Heart of the Anvil. Someday, perhaps we could find a way to create it anew."

Yukimura said nothing, but gazed at the adamantium fist with narrowed eyes.

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Angradd
Notes on Imro's revelation near the heart of Bronzeshield forge

[Editor’s Note: Imro kindly pointed out to me this section of his personal travel journal, hastily scrawled during the famed frantic and contested approach to the forge-heart of Bronzeshield. Dear reader, if you have followed my awed ramblings thus far, I need not tell you of the significance of these moments. I willed my hands to remain still as I handled the rough pages, stained with sweat, tears, or both.]

Friend Utica is safely gone, and with her heartfelt farewell, I know. I know because of the relief I feel upon her leaving. What began before I found her [illegible] … that part of me has awakened during this war – waged at such cost in lives! The bloody [illegible] distorted [reflection of?] the battle within me. I am certain my companions have sens… [illegible.] During these seasons since I was in captivity, I have been under the weight of [illegible] … regaining [illegible] … ancestors calling me to wake. I am rediscovering the [illegible] of old ….

Heart! Let’s forget her,
You and I – tonight!
You, forget the warmth she gave.
I will forget the light.

[Editor’s note: The above passage gives me chills. Imro said to me that his mind was on fire at this time, before Baylin, in Hanmeg’s full regalia – well, I need not tell you. He said he could have written for hours (he later did, but that is written elsewhere.) These were the repudiating words that came to him in the moment.

As aforementioned, Imro’s note taking was quite haphazard, and while at various times attempts were made to organize, those never quite succeeded; so I have compiled here a few scraps from sources written at various times. If the account seems a little self-contradictory, well what can I say? I will leave the reader to interpret Imro’s words.]

Where do I begin? For one thing, injuries to my memory were healed, at least in part. That I have Pahmet blood for instance, on my father’s side, which had been hidden from me, and doubtless played a part in our family’s ouster from the mountain.

Is there any being who has given as much in service to life and truth as Sarenrae, and lived? The stories of her glory and sacrifice excite and inspire me still. And yet, who can look on the Sun? It is radiant, yet distant. Who are the children of the sun? She leaves them to run roughshod in her name over weaker beings. I remember offering redemption to bandits in the woods, and how I felt when they refused to accept it. I looked and longed for Sarenrae, but I saw only the sun, and it blurred my eyes with tears and pain. Does the sun see me, does she hear the pleas of my heart?


[From a letter to Torvic] You asked about Yelenya. OF COURSE I kept the secret. I’ll forgive the question because you may have forgotten that I had the habit of wearing goggles with a particular ability. That was a source of doubt for me at the time, because my mentors in the faith of Sarenrae taught that light and dark are more than mere metaphors and that darkness is a kind of evil. I am grateful to have never been quite THAT simpleminded, but it did cause concern and some hand-wringing on my part. What Wallorin and I discovered, I will have to tell you in person. I cannot commit it to writing lest it fall into the wrong hands.


Who is more compassionate: the one who demands you to confess your misdeeds and repent under threat of destruction, or the one who sees you for who you are, respects you, takes the time to get to know you, and who continually weighs the scales of conflict? There is something to be said for both, but I know who I prefer. Perhaps I should have been a general rather than a holy man, or maybe there is still time. I have come to believe that the world is made better through understanding, negotiation, and hard work, more than harsh judgements. People who worship a god of war because they love violence, that’s misplaced in my view. That’s Pharasma or Gorum, or even Rovagug himself. A true warrior appreciates self control, strategy, strength of arm and mind, sees both the good and the evil, strength and weakness, in his opponent. War is a last resort, but one has to be ready. If you’re going to do it – if it’s forced upon you – you’d better do it right. That’s what was returned to me in Bronzeshield, that’s why I look to Angradd today.

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Descent into Bronzeshield Fortress
In Which Utica is Introduced

Imro rummaged and removed his meditation mat and the spell scroll from his pack. The mat was a simple, rolled-up affair of rough cord binding narrow slats of canewood; though barely large enough to provide a decent sitting space, it would provide some comfort for the long minutes required to cast the spell from the scroll. Imro stabbed his staff into the soft earth and hung a stained glass holy symbol on it, which would be a point of focus.

As Imro settled into a meditative posture on the mat, Sayd came on spindly legs and knelt down beside him. “Imro if you do this, you will have my thanks. Know this is your choice. Though we are short on time, we can find another way down. I would caution you, as this undertaking is not guaranteed to work, and will yet have some unknown cost. There is no shame or ill feeling on my part, should you change your mind now.”

“Understood. Scrolls are meant to be used,” Imro said, gamely. I’ve been saving this one quite a while, and I can think of no better time than the present.” He slid the scroll out of its ornate storage case.

As the scroll cleared the edge of its casing, Sayd straightened and raised a pale, slender hand over his eyes to shade them. He frowned and looked around into the grassy hills. “Did you hear that,” he asked. Imro glanced around and shook his head. “Interesting,” muttered Sayd. “I thought I heard the sound of metal on metal .. like a smith’s hammer at a distant forge … I see nothing like that around here.” He smiled mysteriously and gave Imro’s shoulder a companionable squeeze, then withdrew to a respectful distance where the rest of the party were doubtless discussing options should Imro’s undertaking fail.

Imro mused on Sayd’s words, which were so characteristically fanciful and cryptic, even maddening. Imro had wisdom and experience enough not to dismiss them, yet as was so often the case, there was little to be done about them. The veil between worlds seemed thinner wherever Sayd was concerned, for good or ill.

The point of the scroll’s spell was to summon a being from beyond the material plane. Such creatures could be useful, as they were subject to different physical laws and as such had incredible or powerful abilities. The party had a very practical problem, which was that they wanted to descend through a skylight, through 300 feet of air to the floor of a subterranean cavern, a little known entrance to Bronzeshield Fortress – and they wanted to do it quickly, while the sun still shone. The course of the war with the hags might depend on their raid’s success.

The actual reading of the scroll would not take long. The ephemeral energies harnessed in the words were of considerable power however, and would dissipate if not precisely controlled. Minutes of intense concentration were required to set his correct frame of mind, if Imro were to complete the complex task successfully. And then, whatever creature responded to the call, they would have to convince that creature to help. But, one thing at a time.

Imro let out a controlled breath. He stretched out the dry paper scroll and hung it before him on the staff below the holy symbol of Sarenrae. As he did so, the world and soundscape around him seemed to fade. He studied the calligraphy and the motif of the runes inscribed there, the relationships between them. Each appurtenant would have a verbal component that would vary depending on the reader. Imro began to rock slowly forward and back, forward and back, as he began his selected mantra. Having studied the scroll long enough, it consumed itself in a flash of fire. But the spell was not nearly complete. Imro held the symbols in his mind’s eye. His voice did not waver. His intonations gathered strength and confidence, though they began to echo, and sound more and more distant to his own ears as he felt his spirit move away from his body.

Clang

Imro quelled the emotion he felt at the unexpected sound, which was new yet familiar, like something he couldn’t quite recall. He did not pursue the thought, as he did not wish to risk breaking concentration. He continued the all-important chant.

Clang

Colors began to appear around him, like the spots that appear when one squeezes one’s eyes shut. Soon however, they grew brighter and more cohesive, moved with curious designs and shapes come to life, as if they were painted on a tunnel and he was moving along it, though the tunnel changed direction and had no beginning, nor end. Imro realized that he had become fascinated, had forgotten to continue his chant. The colors flowed past him in complete silence. The spell didn’t seem to matter anymore.

Clang-tic. Ta-clang

It was as Sayd had said, and the sound seemed to beat in time with the rhythm of Imro’s heart. As the thought came to him, the colors quickly faded; he smelled acrid soot, and felt an unyielding stone beneath his feet. He stood in the doorway of a cavernous room carved out of living stone, lit by torches and the radiant glow of hot metal from a kingly furnace that dominated the space.

“Who is there,” boomed the voice of the room’s sole occupant – but he did not stop his work.

Ta-clang-tic. Ta-CLANG-tic.

With his back toward Imro and the door was a surprisingly short, but powerfully built dwarf. Long braids of glowing gold and red flowed like hot melted stone, in a rivulet down his broad back, which was streaked with black dirt and sweat. He paused and raised in gloved hands the blade he was forging. It was a scimitar, the finest Imro had ever seen. “I don’t often make them,” he said, “but they are some of my best work. This one is for an old friend.” He cast the blade onto a pile of weapons of various shapes, sizes, and stages of completion. “What do you want, stranger” he asked, without turning.

Imro found himself unable to make a sound. “I don’t have anything you can use,” said Angradd as he picked up another unfinished weapon. “But I can direct you. The path before you is the way back. Go back the way you came in” he boomed!

TA-CLANG! TIC!

Imro was swept back into swirling void – lost! – but not for long, as a moving, living steed soon materialized beneath him. He was astonished to hear the long slow flapping of snow-white feathered wings alongside, and felt his stomach lurch with a motion sickness. He gripped the mane before him with a sudden urgent need to stabilize himself, and saw a beautiful spiral opalescent, implausibly long, rainbow-sheened horn sprouting from the head of his fine, muscled mount.

As was true for most dwarfs, Imro found riding to be a most awkward and unpleasant experience, even when his mount was, absurdly, a flying unicorn. Imro was profoundly awed, despite himself.

“What a curious thing you are,” muttered Utica (for that was her name) in a melifluent, horse-like voice. I’ve never seen a soul quite your color. And I’m fairly certain that material beings are not supposed to wander away from their bodies. Sarenrae would not be pleased with your wanderings – whatever were you thinking! Shall I return you back where you belong?”

Imro may or may not have managed a “Yes, please,” as he clung desperately, precariously to her back. Utica did not wait for his answer; rather she swirled, dove, and swooped them on their magical way back to the material plane.

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From the New General of Dunsward, Teret Feron

Yelenya —

Why, its so good to hear from you! Lyriina and I have certainly had our hands full; Varnhold and its surroundings are a very different animal than Glamorfell, but one constant exists: a never-ending supply of work.

It looks like you’ve had more than your share of interesting characters show up on your front door. Its almost hard to remember those cold nights under a full moon an Oleg’s, only Elissa and Jhod along with the old Levetons. Sharing stories, drinking Svetlana’s apple cider, and marveling at the great vast emptiness of the plains beyond the walls of Oleg’s.

Well, here we are. We’ve succeeded despite ourselves.

I feel like I owe it to you to at least keep you abreast of some of the things going on to your east. The capital of Dunsward is the incredibly self-congratulatory Varnhold, and we have our own set of issues. I hope we can correspond and keep some kind of dialogue open between our two locales. We need to send an emissary, and soon. I think Lyriina’s twin brother Anton needs to experience, but the young man is just so incredibly dour. I’ll see what I can drum up. The Varns’ mother is never spoken of, but I can tell you that I miss her often without even knowing her – the two children (Lyriina and Anton) desperately need someone other than their incredibly imaginative father in their life.

Dunsward is no Glamorfell, at least not the Glamorfell that I remember. It is a bit more wild, both in temperament and fancy. Brawls in the streets outside the bars, a very vocal student population at Varn University that Baron Maegar dotes over, stragglers descending from the mountains and from Restov looking for glory. It is a reflection of the man himself: rebellious, hotheated, joyful to a fault. But I cannot malign the man too much! He has treated me as no less than a son, promoted me immediately as General, and heeds counsel – heeds all his counselors, really! – as if their voices were his own.

But to know Dunsward, to know Maegar Varn, one has to first understand his relationship with Cephal Lorentus, Magister of Varnhold. Since Maegar himself may have been an unlikely fifth-in-line heir to the family holdings in Restov, he re-invented himself at an early age. Archaeologist, philanthropist, naturalist: Maegar will lay claim to all those titles because they please him, but in truth the man is no scholar. His greatest virtue is the trust he inspires in his men and his ability to identify and nurture the talent of those under him.

He led a small mercenary/ adventuring band for years (in truth, arent all adventuring bands a little bit of both?) that explored Iobaria, lands to the west, and had some real successes. His second in command has always been the incredibly grim and “realistic” Cephal. He works to anchor Maegar, to bring his fanciful plans back down to earth, and to be the sadly necessary anchor of gravity that every cloud needs to keep it from floating off into the ether. He’s very competent. And incredibly disagreeable. Id as soon throw a drink in his face as share it with him.

Their most recent row seems to be regarding Restov and the Swordlords themselves. I do not know if you knew this or not, but Dunsward is a very heavy investment vehicle of the Swordlords. They pour a lot of money into the infrastructure, its education, its economy. Any blind outsider can see that they mean to use it to their own ends, even Maegar. But he believes he can balance their own needs with those of Dunsward. Cephal disagrees heavily. He readily shoots down any positive Restov or Swordlord-forwarded motion in council. But behind closed doors I hear shouting, terrible shouting between the two men. I always wonder how they manage to leave such heated sessions still smiling.

Family is weird I suppose, and Cephal is certainly a part of the Varns. I think Anton sees him as a larger father figure than Maegar himself. He treats Lyriina with intricate kindness (but then, how could one not?!) and remembers details about the Varn children that their own father often forgets.

Anyway, lets keep up this correspondence! I think it will serve to benefit us both greatly! I have to admit that I’m a little shocked that Akrios is now taking my place, although I cant really be terribly surprised. I mean – I still remember driving my boot into his face that hazy afternoon at the Stag Lord’s fortress, as the drunken buffoon himself stumbled from his cabin with that horrific mask and wicked bow.

And then fucking Jacob Featherstep! How is he? Please tell me that he’s not on the Council too, or soon to be. I think I’d have to fly over there this very evening to slap some sanity into you.

Please Yelenya, give everyone my best. Although I have sword allegiance to Baron Varn and the good people of Dunsward, I shall never forget my formative years scouring the Narlmarch.

With every regard,

Teret Feron
General of Dunsward and leader of its Imperial Forces

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letter from Yelenya to Teret.

To Teret, and Lyriiana.

Hi Kiddies, we miss you. Things are generally speaking going rather well. Where to start? We’ve acquired a few new people: Imro, Baylin, Ilmadia, Akilina, Annika, Vespus, Gilelle, and a whole passel of assorted halflings and dwarves. We’ve had a busy few years. Immigration has been moving right along, we’ve started acquiring more variety, some more humans, and some dwarves. The humans have been pretty well been poorly behaved. The dwarves have been almost as much a pain in the butt. The ones that have moved here have been hard workers, but they seem obsessed with finding ruins and taking them over. Oh well, we try to be accommodating. Imro and Baylin have been brought onto the council. Imro is a priest of Sarenrae, and is an arrogant prat. Granted, that is almost a given when dealing with priests, but he takes it to a rather impressive level. Baylin is a paladin of the god of ignoring things. Toreg, I think. Ilmadia is an elf, she’s also not letting being dead slow her down much. She might be an evil bitch, but she’s not so bad. Akilina is the princess of Glamorfell, they’re expecting, perhaps (we’ll expect all of you back for the party) and she’s not so bad, at the moment. Annika came wandering in a few years ago, and she’s decided to make herself Sayd’s bodyguard. Apparently she had some issues with paladins from Sheylinn, currently that seems to be under control. Sayd has, of course, decided to take as his predominant advisor a turd named Vespus. Incompetence is very definitely his strong suit. Akeros has acquired a second in command named Gilelle, who we met while she was dead. Currently she is rather chatty. Life has been fairly interesting for the past couple of years. Sayd and Akilina have pissed off the strongest of the local fey, which has caused a lot of problems and more than a few deaths. We’ve also been having some issues with the hags, and a newly formed Troll Kingdom. I did end up sort of adopting some changeling kids, and as nice as it is to have kids around these ones are loud, abrasive, and foul mouthed. Positively adorable. Ralla decided that torturing them was acceptable, so we have some unfinished business. Also wandered up to Hollow. Pretty sure that I’m going to kill most of the people there. These things happen. Met a nice girl up there, Nikola. She has the most beautiful eyes. I know this is going to end poorly, but I was thinking about asking her out anyway. The castle is up and there are other projects starting soon. Well, that’s pretty much it for the moment. As usual we have a constantly evolving screw-up. Please come and visit, we need more sane people because there is a lot of cranial-fundament-insertion syndrome going on around here. Currently it’s “green winter” maybe it’s for the warmth.

Huggs, Kisses, and My love:
Yelenya.

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Walkies
yep, i half-assed one. finally.

yelenya

The bar was entirely too noisy for comfort. Football and Basketball games competed on the TV’s, and beer flowed in copious amounts. Health regulations decreed public buildings to be non-smoking. The human and The Elf had a lot to answer for. The Mark was, as usual, being annoyingly loud and being an obnoxious oaf. If I am being honest, that’s more than enough of a reason for me to rip his heart out and use it as a juice box… and in the spirit of being more honest, I really don’t need a reason for that sort of behavior. I had one of the girls with me, kind of as a reward, so I was supposed to be acting like a role model. Bugger that. I sipped at a coke and waited patiently for a few minutes. Patience is an important skill when hunting, and that was exactly what I was doing. The Mark attempted to hit on me. He was lacking some prerequisites… all of them, actually. Dead Elf was sitting in the corner trying to glower at everybody. This was good, she needed to get out and socialize more. The Terrible Twosome were here too, He was being obnoxious and She was being a twit. There is a reason that I call them that. There were actually a few people here who were aware of what exactly I do for work, plenty of stories, but little comformation. I almost giggled when The Mark attempted to insult me. I never go anywhere without my shadow, her name is Irina, and she’s about as unpleasant as I. Irina popped up through the floor like a stripper through a cake and gave The Mark hugs. Watching the strength melt from him and listening to his shrieking cut off as he toppled to the rather dirty floor was almost enough to make the past hour worthwhile. Almost. I don’t do things like this without some reason, despite what anyone else says, so while The Mark was crumpling to the floor I was watching The Bunny jump up and run out the back of the bar. Prey distinguishes itself through movement, and I had pegged the Mivonese the week before. Normally I’d play those stupid spy games that everybody loves, but we are going on a road trip tomorrow, so I have to clean up this particular mess a bit more exuberantly than I wanted to. My heart breaks for the little lambs. Not really. The Terrible Twosome were getting all up in arms. Humans are irritating. Technically I don’t belong to their chain of command, realistically my pay grade is higher than anybodies but the Prince when it comes to my job. So when I tell them to gather up Jerky and follow me, there is a lot of complaining but they do it anyway. Because I said so. Dead Elf was looking curious, and I can use her abilities for this next part, so I grabbed her by the ear on my way out the door. Wally knows better than to bother me when I’m working. I know where The Bunny is going, so it isn’t much of a chase. The house is out of the way, down a side street. More of a hut really, I reach into my pocket and turn on the little signal jammmer and rip the phone line out. One of my lesser used tricks is to create a simple illusion. The hint of a SQUAT team hiding around back isn’t a stretch. Dynamic entry is kind of different when Irina can just stick her head through the wall to see what was going on, add in a flashbang or two and most bloodbags just call it a day. Now comes the work part. Dammit.

jurin

It’s tough to take Yelenya seriously. Besides being this vampire-thing she looks like a damn hippy. Gotta be ok to smite her. It’ll be fine. She’s clearly evil. She wears heels, dammit, and I’ve never even seen her in yoga pants. And she’s a stuck up bitch. Although i get the feeling that it’d be a one shot deal, even if Kimmi helped me. Maybe a mass healing spell? I can’t do that yet, and the Abomination and the Shade would be on top of me in no time flat. Should have done something at the bar. Wally would have backed me up. I’ve gotta be more important than her, I actually help people. Prince Sayd gave me a magic sword and everything. I should probably take this guy to get healed up, he’s pretty light, and I bet I can carry him all the way there myself. I’ll be a hero. What about the girl that Yelenya has hanging from the ceiling though? I should see if I can save her too. It’s super creepy that the shadow from the chair shows it’s empty, I can see her sitting in it.

yelenya

Killing things is easy, but that isn’t my preferred method. With a few, rare, exceptions dead people suffer from a serious lack of helpfullness. They lack motivation. Live people can, if the stars align correctly, occasionally be useful. Which is a roundabout way of saying that I want something from the munchie currently dangling from the ceiling. The trick is to come to an agreement to get what you want. It’s all about the phrasing.

“Oh, good. You’re awake. I have good news and bad news. The good news is that if you do what I ask then I’ll release you unharmed and you can leave. The bad news is that if you don’t, or if you lie to me I will drain every drop of blood out of your body. The pale lady standing behind you can tell when you lie, and because I’m a cautious sort, the young man with the baffled and infuriated expression on his face can tell if she’s lying. The point that you should be aware of is that in the event of a lie you die horribly. I’m serious, it takes hours to do a good job. I’m currently debating where I want to bite you. The artery in your arm is a pretty good choice, easy to tourniquet in between feedings. Or maybe I’ll cut your pants open and feed off the big artery in your thigh. It’s a little trickier there, if I get sloppy you’ll just bleed out before I can stop the blood flow. Maybe I’ll do that, I can make the kid heal you in between. Be easier that way. What did you say? I can’t hear you through the gag. Thigh it is. You know, this will probably be the closest thing to sex I’ve had since I got here. It’s been what, seven, eight years? Haven’t gotten any in that entire time, unless you count being raped by a satyr. Probably why I’m so grouchy. So, with that being said, shall we begin?”

later

“The Mivonese spies we found last week are on their way home, psychologically scarred, but healthy enough. Jhod restored the more annoying one. I told them if they wanted to move here for real then they could, but they had to mean it. I managed to but my metaphorical boot to Kimi and Jurin’s bottoms. Ilmadia is learning to play well with others. The changeling kids are behaving themselves for the moment. I’m going home, changing my Shadow into a cat and watching it run around the house.

Well, you wanted a report. It’s not my fault you were going to the bathroom when I came in to give it.

Sheesh, there is no satisfying some people."

the next day (heading to the Still Tower.)

The communication headset is a very useful piece of technology: it allows you to hear normal sounds, amplifies quiet things, and mutes really loud things. Most importantly it allows you to drown out the two Dwarves singing marching songs at the top of their lungs buy playing Five Finger Death Punch, Within Temptation, Stabbing Westward, BabyMetal, Andrew W.K., Bloodywood, Lacuna Coil, and Frank bloody Sinatra at full volume. Thank the goddess. Seriously, it’s bad enough they keep trying to leave me for dead, but we’re doing sneaky shit at the moment. Singing at the top of your lungs is counterproductive… and Dwarven marching songs do not enthuse me. The Mivonese donated the use of a boatload of skeletons for what I am sure is totally altruistic reasons. The same reasons that they’ve been attempting to slip spies into Glamorfell. It’s a little trickier considering that I read everybody in the capitals’ mail, read their messages, listen to their calls, and occasionally break into their houses and rearrange the furnature. A girl has to entertain herself somehow. We managed to scrape together a Halfling army… sort of. An open field battle and they’re going to get wrecked. The Kobold detachment is a bunch of sneaky bastards, and I rather enjoy them. Got to convince them to stop sending all their pay home though. The only things they own are a can do attitude and a pickaxe. It’s kind of depressing. Time passes. We’re cutting across the “armies” trail and going to visit The Old Beldame. I like her, but then again I tend to be pretty respectful of peoples’ yards. It’s safer that way. Sayd and Kaede are pretty sure they can convince her to move to the city for a little bit, which pleases me. We’re also going to visit Sayd’s… neirid? buddy and see if she wants to do some snooping on the trolls and bugbears. I can understand the practicality, but I do have some reservations about fey assistance. It probably has something to do with the difficulty of getting them to stay on target. They tend to flake out without adult supervision… gee, that sounds familiar. I have some issues with drawing out killing things, I don’t like to play with my food, so drowning the bugbear was a bit off for me. Still, the info is useful. Nana Applebaum is, apparently, in the tower. So are a bunchaton of trolls. The good news is that the bugbears are apparently kept outside. The bad news is that I seriously doubt our sneaky way in is still a secret. The good news is that Garrum may be able to make it easier to get into the base of the tower through the water. The bad news is that after that we have no actual idea about what we’re getting into. I should have brought a wetsuit. Oh, well.

We got in the same way we did last time. There were critters this time, which was new, and my companions didn’t want to help each other get up the rope, which was not. The oozes were interesting,

I was a little curious as to what would happen if I tried to drink one. They smelled like alchohol. Probably a bad idea. I’ll ask Jubilost about it later. I set Irina to scouting around, which in her case also includes taking out targets of opportunity. She’s flexable like that. It turns out that Troggles smell worse than I remembered, although my previous experience was running the heck away with a baby griffin sleeping in my shirt. The Trolls are a bit odd. For one thing, they all smell awfull. For another they’re acting more creatively than I remember, although that was again experience gained while running away. Aside from the smell my biggest issue is that I can’t feed on them. Plus, they smell awfull, I bet they taste worse.

I am unamused with this. Nana’s at the top of the dammed tower and occasionally flying down to shoot spells in through the windows. All this combined with the big-assed weather spell she cast when our army got here is going to be a problem. I, on the other hand, am inside the “secret” portion of the tower at the moment. I is in ur tower, killin ur doodz. Well, helping, anyway.

Irina got killed. Disincorperated is probably the correct word for it. I do not care. I was willing to accept a peacefull option. Now, everybody dies.

It’s a stupid idea, but I’m following Sayd up to the roof. He can fly, I have to climb. Sodding towers. There’s at least a troll up there. Nope, intelligent zombie cyclopse. Let’s stop and think about how messed up that is, shall we? Yep, pretty messed up. And no shadows to hide in. I’m going to hide in the big ball of butterflies. Huh, turns out it can still see me. I managed to avoid getting pushed off the roof. It probably looked tricky, but spinning around on a pole is only tricky if you’re upside down when you do it. More running, jumping, climbing, and I managed to move about 10 feet from where I started. The problem with big zombies is there is a lot to stab before you hit something that can actually hurt them. Kaede is up here. Screw this noise, I’ma go pick on something my own size. Like a troll. People consider rapiers to be girly weapons for some reason. Probably has something to do with the french. French weapons for sale: never used, dropped once. In reality it’s a long pointy bit of metal with a big basket at the back end to protect your hand and counterbalance the BIG HEAVY POINTY PIECE OF METAL. Which meant that when I stabbed Staldis in the back of the head two things happened: he died very suddenly, and the pointy end popped out the front of his face. As I was struggling with pulling the pointy bit out of the shmuck the tablet that whatever the hells the Elves thought we gave a rat’s ass about started floating away. I’m all for invisibility spells, as long as I’m the one using them. Nana Applebum was escaping while i was farting around. Which, oddly enough, was also happening to Annika. Which reminds me, if I come across the sad-sack that tried to duel her I should remove something he’s going to miss. I missed catching up with the hag, which displeases me greatly. I was planning on having her for dinner. It’s only cannibalism if they’re the same species as me, and I’ve never met another Dhampir. I don’t know what the deal with the tablets is, nor do I care at the moment. I want the bugbears to surrender, and a bubblebath.

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Aftermath of the Assault on the Still Tower
Kaede glowers after the hag's escape

Kaede sat crosslegged on the ground, with her familiar on her shoulder, her hands on her knees, and a scowl on her face. On the floor in front of her was a small pile of items that had been left behind by the Still Tower’s former resident hag, Anna Applebaum. The low din of battle could be heard coming from the outside through an opening where the window had long since been destroyed. Kaede paid no heed to the panicked shouting of the bugbears, the groaning of the undead, or the war whoops of the halfling forces; Baylin and the others had the situation well in hand, and it wasn’t as if she could impact the outcome anyway.

“What a disaster,” she said. “I cannot believe that fiend managed to evade our grasp in the end, despite all of our preparations and effort. We were so close, and she even managed to abscond with near half a dozen of those stone tablets in the last. These hags are as slippery as river eels.”

Yukimura fluttered down and landed on Kaede’s lap. He looked up directly up at her, and chirped, “True enough girl, but the grub that escapes beneath the rock is gone, and we must be content with the berries we have left. And we have quite a feast, do we not?”

Kaede nodded, saying “Indeed, Master. The Still Tower is a valuable asset, a defensive holding in enemy territory that the Trolls cannot afford to ignore. Our forces will rout the bugbear army, and destroy it. Applebaum’s ogres are dead. We have these…” — Kaede waved her stone fist absentmindedly over the pile in front of her — “… disgusting trinkets, which may have some use against the hags, if fortune favors us. And while the true loss of the broken tablets is probably greater than we can imagine, I trust that they were warded as such for a reason”.

Kaede planted her stone fist on the ground, and flipped into a standing position. “Thank you for the brief pep talk, Master. You are as wise as always.”

At that, Kaede turned and started walking towards the staircase. As she did, her hair billowed out behind her, suddenly twice her height in length. The pitch-black strands of hair wove into a rough appendage, picking up the hag’s trinkets (along with a protesting Yukimura) from the floor, and carrying them aloft in front of her. “Ah, Master, I neglected to mention during the commotion…” said Kaede with amusement, “I have a new gift from our mysterious Patron. Isn’t it grand?”

“Lovely as the morning dew upon a fresh nest on a chilly spring morning, fledgling. Now… if you don’t mind?”

Kaede smiled as she gently picked up Yukimura with her free hand, placed him back upon her shoulder, and smoothed his feathers. She said, “Jubilost and I have our work cut out for us; we’ll need to decode the contents of these remaining tablets and try to stay one step ahead. Come, let’s move along, there’s not a moment to waste. We’ll see how rusty my Elvish has become.”

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