Children of the Night

From the pages of Elias' Journal, Part 20

16th of Erastus, 4709

Well dear reader, the paperwork for the Tamrivena Expedition is finished at last! Worthy of a toast if anything is. All but escort services I suppose, but I’ve written to Sulayne about those, and I’m sure it’ll be sorted soon enough. Come to mine, perhaps the others would be interested in this excursion to? Most claim to mercenary intents, but I’m increasingly convinced they do hold higher virtues at heart, especially after hearing of what they did in Lozeri. Even without them though, this excursion to Tamrivena seems quite necessary. Of course, the Prince’s summons is of import, but more than that I have heard numerous disturbing rumors of troubles afoot in the region. Orc raids, cults, civil strife, all compiled atop the already shoddy leadership of the Palatinates. What’s more, with the news of forces stirring in Virlych I can’t help but worry that some foul influence of that place is seeping into affairs everyone. I hope that the 100 soldiers from the Prince that House Redcliff is to transport there will do some good, but word in court makes me worry. While I have always wondered whether the state of this country speaks well of the Prince’s rule, almost half of the court seems convinced he is a pushover and a weakling without the spirit or personal heroism to lead our country through such troubled times. While I hope these men will be enough for Tamrivena I believe that my own valor, along with what noble souls may aid me, will be the true salvation the place requires.


20th of Erastus, 4709

Just finished meeting with Sulayne and the others, and arrangements for the Ap-Blutte to provide escort services have been made. Sadly, Vali was out of town, but Halda and Vargan have decided to come along as well. Aetherton will of course be on board, assigned by the Prince himself to this mission, and Sulayne will be making sure his men do their best. I suspect Halda has some objective she isn’t mentioning, as precious little coin was on offer, but the prospect of a good fight, and some quality parties, seemed to rouse Vargan’s interests. Or perhaps Halda’s lust for coin is abating, she did mention coming along out of a sense of friendship. It’s odd to think that the incursion of goblins at the feast in Vauntil could be the catalyst, but we random lot of stern souls have become friends. An odd set of friendships perhaps, but I suppose shared danger and the knowledge of the darkest things this world has to offer can do that to people. In any case, I am truly looking forward to some days aboard a ship with them all.


28th of Erastus, 4709

Well, so far things are positively deceptively pleasant. East travel overland followed by days of smooth sailing. Good drink, solid company, and the prospects of a adventure make it all feel positively romantic. Even now I can hear Sulayne playing along with the band and the tapping of dancing feet. I believe the soldiers should arrive in Tamrivena in quite good spirits tomorrow. The entertainment I arranged for on board was certainly worth the cost. Even Vargan has been enjoying the company of some of the ladies. I’m not sure how much they reciprocate the feeling, but I do know he was excellent entertainment for all in last nights’ round of Passatella. The sight of him simply throwing off a whole squad of men who tried to mob him after declaring they were all too weak to drink impressed more than just me. Perhaps I should invite him to a round of Pennying tonight. I wonder if he’d do well with the acrobatics of it? He certainly has the stamina, the duel we fought yesterday showed me just how tough of a beast he truly he, I believe he barely felt the blows of my practice blade. I’ve noticed even Serana and her companions have mingled with the crew a bit, and I believe Sulayne was swapping a bit of gossip there. I do hope that they’ll see this is a better pursuit than pirating. Ah, speak of the devil, there’s Serana now, seems I’m needed on deck.


29th of Erastus, 4709

Well, I suppose things could not stay in such a good state forever, but a whole town… I was called on deck because we’d come across a settlement, only without the people. Obviously we quickly set about an investigation and it didn’t take long to find that the place was deserted but for some bits of blood and remains of a skirmish. Following the trail of some sort of monstrous horde the others struck out into the woods while I took tot e skies on Nike to scout the region, Halda joining in the form of nothing less than a dragon. While Aetherton had warned me to prepare for such an event it was shocking nonetheless. While I have of course heard stories, nothing quite does justice tot e majestic grace and deadly beauty of such a thing in the flesh. Sadly, there was no time for admiration as we quickly found a nearby fire in the woods where beastmen, terrible mutated husks of people, had gathered survivors of the village and looked set to slaughter them.

Halda turned back while I maintained overwatch, catching there attention and hoping to draw them away from the hostages. I had no such luck however and was forced to engage directly. On my own the leader, which I later learned to be one of the three hags of some sort of fell coven, tried to ward me off with clouds of fell darkness, but Nike’s swift wings saw me clear of that, and in no time I was engaged with the mewling beasts, a storm of limbs and blades flying at me from all sides, though I couldn’t help but remark at the ease with which I deflected the storm of blows. I suppose these quests have truly improved me, for a couple of short years ago I would only have dreamed myself capable of such a feat, but I indeed took on the whole mob myself for some time, reflexively carving off limbs and hacking down one of the leaders of the coven. I even scored grievous wounds on the hag herself before she leapt into flight, sealing her injuries with magic. Still, it was a hard-pressed fight. Though they had little accuracy, every glancing blow from the beasts spoke of just what strength they held, strength that I suddenly felt crash into me from behind just as the arrival of my companions riding upon Halda caught my attention.

The next I knew I was coughing up blood, Halda’s hands guiding my wounds shut with her power, and the herd of the beasts dead around me but for one survivor. Mind still cloudy, I saw to the wellbeing of the hostages briefly before aiding in the interrogation. While the beastman had blenty of bile to spill about the end of man, four important pieces of information did emerge. First, it was beyond any salvation, firmly holding its support of some fell elder god. Second, the hag we had just killed was but the weakest in a coven of three, with “Ossiso” as the leader, a name which Vargan seemed to recognize. Third, these beastmen had only taken a few of the villagers, the rest being carted off by a vast horde of ghouls. Fourth, they were assaulting these villagers to gain strength against the coming of a greater foe, one which originated in Virlych…

My folly in this, of course, was that throughout this interrogation, the freed villagers stood by, learning not only of the potential doom besetting them, but of the magics that these beasts were tapping into for their rituals. Blood magic, vision stones, the like. While I strove to ensure that my companions did the proper things with these items, it slipped my thoughts that such innocent minds were being exposed, and in so doing, I fear I may have damned the souls of these people. The heat of vengeance and love was clearly driving their hearts towards the use of these magics, which can only lead to greater destruction if they should ever follow through. This sin against my ideals cannot be forgotten lightly, and even this next morning I can feel the burning shame upon my soul. Still, things can be made right. For a start, even if the other villagers have been consumed by these ghouls, I can ensure that such a fate does not befall Tamrivena. The hypocrisy of a Prince who would claim 100 common soldiers can aide in such a situation shall be exposed, and my own blade will put things right instead, whatever the cost.