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An Unknown Enemy (Session 3; Part 1)
How easy it is to make enemies in a place such as Melvaunt. Do a simple deed of justice and for some reason, you are forever marked as a do-gooder; and to many who live there, that makes you trouble. I expected such to happen in time, but not in such a crude form as it did.

We arrived home without trouble from the bandit's camp and presented the fat pig with our trophy. Blackalbuck would say nothing of the object's purpose, claiming not to know. Did he indeed? Or was he simply toying with us? Was this over grown entity of repulsion even capable of such a lie? In the end, I decided it did not matter. If we were to be double-crossed, then it would be met with a swift wrath.

Having no other use for us at the moment, we were sent home. I, however, intended on making a detour. The trip had been more of a trek than I had anticipated, and a bath was the first thing on my mind upon leaving the greasy pig's dwelling. Once finished, the four of us began our journey across town.

All was quiet that night, as it typically was, though a speedy jaunt home was more preferable than a long walk. To that end, we decided to take a more...seedy route. Perhaps not the most intelligent of decisions, I admit, though one that was more preferred given how drunk my dwarven companion had gotten himself. As Halkas walked...or at least attempt to walk...I trudged quietly behind alongside Devoila and Luxa, wishing verily to return to the serene comforts of my cabin aboard the ship.

Had my mind not still been wandering to dwell upon what was to become of the strange green obelisk I had spent our trek home examining, I might have saved us all a bit of grief. A hand reached out from a shadowed alley, immediately gripping the halfling by the throat and pulling her towards it.

I wheeled about at the sudden commotion to see her firmly in the arms of a burly man, his sword pressed against her neck. He was a gruff figure, nothing more than the common street rat. A bandit, likely, given his demand for us to disarm ourselves. Despite his demeanor, however, I felt no need to fear him, and drew my blade, intent on seeing it pierce his heart.

Devoila wrestled with the man, but to no avail. Her small stature did not fare well enough against the lunk's sheer strength, and a small trickle of blood oozed forth from the point where the blade pressed against her neck.

Halkas, still quite drunk, stumbled forward, attempting to parley in the most dwarven of fashions. He edged close enough to grip the man, allowing Devoila to wrestle free, and the dwarf began striking at them with his axe, sending them backing into the alleyway.

There was little room for the rest of us to edge inward, and Silvermane instinctively charged into the gap between, grasping at the man's arms with his jaws. Meanwhile, I quickly made my way over to the wall. If I could not pass by, then I would make my own entrance. I touched the wall, feeling the rough stone against my silken grasp, and whispered a quiet melody I had once learnt from an arachnymph. I then placed another hand upon it, feeling my grip tightening. A foot, then another. Now completely attached to the wall, I began edging my way around it, grasping at it as a spider, and began moving towards the fray.

By now, their morale had fallen to dangerous levels, and it did not take long before they discovered the tide had turned and the balance had shifted out of their favor. They turned to run, bounding as fast as they could through the series of alleyways beyond.

Seeing this, I quickly made my way to the rooftop and began moving to keep up. They did not seem to notice me, which worked to my favor, and after a short jaunt, they stopped, meeting in an alley to speak with another. Apparently they had been sent to bring us to an enchanter, though they were mum on the rest. Clearly we were of some interest to this man; but this interest did not seem a kind one considering the method of contacting us.

As the men left to retreat inside a building, it seemed as though little more would be shed on this event. Perhaps in the morning, I would investigate further...
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Betraying the Betrayer (Session 2; Part 2)
Given our destination, it was no surprise that we were ambushed. A small throng of orcs waited as we crossed a wooded trail. Curious, though, that they were wounded. One might think such a strategy would be unwise, particularly considering their poor variation of a pinsir maneuver.

Through steel, arrow, and magic, we eventually brought them down. Strange, though. I could not help but wonder what had caused their injuries, and what sort of desperation called for them to attack in such a state. Surely they knew that they were easily beaten? But then, again, they were merely orcs, creatures well known for their lack of wisdom and forethought.

The bandit camp was not much further. We arrived to find it...rather well-settled, particularly for brigands. There was quite an obvious amount of stress in the air, however. Not at our arrival, no, but within the camp itself. They seemed too suspicious of each other to see through our half-readied guises, though unfortunately, it did not stop them from sizing us up.

Corwyn was much easier to find than anticipated, and while my blood surged with the wish to gut him then and there, doing so in the midst of the camp was a sure way to a coffin of my own. No, something more subtle was required.

Of course the idea of subtlety was lost on our local dwarf. Halkas, seeing Corwyn, immediately made his way over to the man and began making small talk. With a hidden sigh, I followed as we were led to a campfire, though I immediately eyed an orc whom 'bumped' into Corwyn on our way, as well as the cold stare they shared with one another.

Somehow or another, Halkas not only succeeded in getting Corwyn's attention, but also managed to procure our way into the bandits' vault. It seemed the place had been taken over by some sort of fiends, and no amount of men that Corwyn threw inside seemed to quash the problem. Who to turn to?

While Halkas and the others had a word with the man, I decided to set my own plans in motion and left to find the orc I had seen earlier. It was clear by the gaze he had shared with Corwyn and by the segregation of the races that the orcs held only a tedious alliance with the humans. A partnership of profit is not necessarily a strong one, after all. A smile crept along the orc's face after I gave him my proposition. His massive hand seemed to completely envelop my own as we sealed the pact.

From there, we were taken to the vaults. Two guards, each standing in front of a door. Quaint, but unnecessary, or at least it seemed so at first. Corwyn ushered us in and I resisted the urge to look back, as I knew he would seem the rather malign smirk held on my face just for him.

Within the room, we were immediately met with our adversaries. Darkmantles, landborn octpus-like creatures who used their natural abilities to blend right into their surroundings waited for us from the cave's ceiling. Luckily, however, Devoila's sharp eye caught them before they had a chance to surprise us, and battle was joined almost instantaneously.

All seemed to fare well until one of the creatures pervaded a dark aura that covered a greater majority of the cave's central area. It was like a black mist had settled upon the room that no light could pierce. We nearly lost young Luxa to one of the creatures as it tried to wrap itself around her and gnaw upon her backside. In this time of need, however, I could call upon my loyalest of companions to deal a blow for me.

"Your gift is greater than mine here, my Lord. Tear them to shreds," I said to the wolf, whom obliged. The hunt was on, and his muzzle lifted to the air. It was not long before he bound into the darkness, sensing the scent of his prey. Through the combined efforts of all of us, the creatures were felled, and we took a moment to retrieve the object we'd been searching for.

Turning to leave, we were immediately met by the sound of a battle outside. As Halkas rushed forward, sensing a time to strike, I smiled to myself as I realized my plan was now in full swing. The orcs were doing battle with Corwyn's men for us, delivering us our opportunity for vengeance.

I emerged just long enough to see Halkas jump onto Corwyn's back and drive some sort of pointed object he had picked up from Blackalbuck's shop deep into his spine. His men seemed startled, letting their guards down entirely and within a few moment, the orcs finished their work and stepped forward.

We had already taken what we needed, and thus, the deal was done. What remained of the treasure within was theirs, along with any...reorganization of their little gang that came after. A fitting end for Corwyn, to be betrayed. As we made ready to leave, I looked at the now headless (thanks to Halkas) form of Corwyn. The fallen had been avenged, and despite what many say, it was indeed satisfying to see it done. A release words cannot explain, perhaps for the both of us. And the idea that I, the betrayed, had suddenly become the betrayer, seemed to conveniently slip my mind.

A dark smirk crept across my face, and I turned, leaving his body to rot in the sun...
Session: Session 2: "Blackalbuck and Bandits" - Saturday, Feb 19 2011 from 5:00 PM to 9:30 PM
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An Unrefusable Deal (Session 2; Part 1)
Is it not interesting what sorts of acts one will commit when emotion blinds them; what lengths they will go to to see their hunger sated? I believed myself above such things at the time, that vengeance and the desire for justice were traits of weakness; a crutch that served only to narrow one's mind and prevent logical thought. Foolish, of course. But I was only human, after all. Perhaps there is some satisfaction knowing that, in death, such things do seem trivial after all. Emotions are whittled down by the passage of time until they are felt only at the edge of feeling. But when you still live, and you find yourself in the heat of the moment, there is some...thrill to it as well...even if it is a haze of rage.

For some time after the incident, Namilos' death plagued my mind. I would re-imagine the moment, see the hounds charging forth towards the ranger. Each time I would imagine if I had done something different, and yet each time, I failed once more. It was as if destiny herself was attempting to sway my mind...perhaps even comfort me. Pity it did no good.

Willowfret eventually called us. A new task lay ahead, and despite my unwillingness to let what had already transpired go, I steeled my nerves and emerged once more. I was in no mood to deal with the sleeping, filth-ridden man we'd hired as a guard, and even less to have to deal with the dockmaster, who'd decided to encroach on our ship. I did find the man rather...lacking in entrepreneurial skill, though. Demanding that we pay the docking fee and bringing an armed escort was no way to do business, but we were soon rid of him nonetheless.

Blackalbuck, the mysterious 'leader' of this group we were apparently now working with, turned out to be the epitome a deadly sin. I had to keep the raging feeling in my stomach from spilling from my muzzle as I gazed at what was quite obviously more fat than man as he tore at legs and wings of poultry and other foods like he could not be filled.

How this grotesque form of a man could be the regional leader of some sort of 'noble vanguard' was beyond me, though I was curious at his request. A jade obelisk that supposedly held some sort of magical power. Unfortunately, however, my curiosity would have to wait, as he wished it for study himself and did not know of it's purpose.

But curiosity was not enough for me. At least, it wasn't until he mentioned the name "Corwyn". Though not directly, that filthy brigand was at least inadvertently responsible for Namilos' death, and likely the disappearance of the young rogue, Almond. If he was at this bandit camp where the obelisk was thought to be held, then there was nothing more than an opportune moment to exact revenge. A life for a life, and Corwyn owed us two.

Thinking Halkas and I would not be enough to do this task, Blackalbuck decided to send along two initiates of his order. My heart sank at this. While they did at least look proficiently trained, I could not help but think of our last two companions...

Devoila, the halfling, was clearly not the talkative type. Even as she entered, she spoke only her name and took a seat. Yet despite this, there was a deep, inset force of will in her eyes. She seemed like she bore some sort of great weight despite her unwillingness to engage us socially.

The other, Luxa, was an elven witch not so different than I, though I could tell by the markings on her clothing and the hefty book she carried on a chain at her side that she was from a slightly different persuasion. A student of the arcane; I must say I was quite fascinated at the thought of seeing such magic in action.

The exchange of words continued, though to little avail, and afterwords, we began to make preparations to leave. Blackalbuck suggested we take horses, as the journey was to be lengthy. My horse was a brilliant white with spots covering her legs. Mist, was the name I gave her, and I took a small joy in seeing how having a new companion seemed to make Silvermane a little jealous.

We made way soon after, heading northward. Shoving the thoughts of Namilos and Almond out of my mind, I focused on the task at hand. After all, if things went well, the reason for their loss would be made to meet it's end this day...
Session: Session 2: "Blackalbuck and Bandits" - Saturday, Feb 19 2011 from 5:00 PM to 9:30 PM
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Daylight's Return (Session 1; Epilogue)
In the end, the decision was not so difficult. Though foul-smelling and dirty creatures, they were, after all, only human. Humans who simply could not control their own destinies. Perhaps it was wrong to pity them for that. To lose control of one's own destiny is perhaps a crime in and of itself, but they had suffered enough, and even these lowly little creatures of destitution and drab deserved a second chance to choose.

But how were we to get them all safely away? Surely we could not climb back through the tunnels, why, there would be a crew waiting on the other side and our trip would have been for naught. And our tiny little rowboat would require several trips to get them all to safety.

Of course...there was a ship large enough to carry us all and then some moored in the cove outside. It almost did not occur to me to steal from a thief, and now that I look back, I cannot imagine why I didn't think of it sooner. The slaves agreed to take the ship back to the harbor as one last act of servitude. And I could not be happier to be a more...hospitable environment; a crude term for such a hole in the earth.

Halkas held the ceremony for Namilos. A dwarven burning ceremony atop a hill overlooking the city. I drew my eyes away, instead looking out towards the sea. The young ranger died valiantly in battle, but I wondered if that was what he wanted. He was young, impressionable. Perhaps he wanted to go raise a family, make a name for himself as captain of the guard. Perhaps he simply wanted to retire to a woodland cabin in the mountains and die of old age. It is difficult to say where fate takes us. One moment, we are in control and we walk the path we wish...and the next, we are whisked away by the wind...forever.

My mind wandered to wonder how Almond had fared as well. We returned to find the tavern boarded up, with Corwyn having fled town with whatever loyalist he had left. Almond, or any sign of him, was not to be found. To this day, I still don't know what became of him, but I'm sure he found exactly what he was looking for nonetheless.

Three days passed quickly. Halkas seemed distant and it was not hard to persuade him into keeping the ship for our own. Corwyn no longer needed it, after all, and given that we were mercenaries in a port city, it seemed likely that we would need it at some point. We met Willowfret on the third night and to my satisfaction, he offered to take the slaves from us. He did not want to keep them as slaves or as a tool for barter, he wished them freed, as well as a great deal other things.

Our payment was received alongside an offer for more work if we were interested. I was hesitant to accept. I still was no closer to the puppeteer whom pulled the strings, but I had little else to go on. The idea of becoming some sort of champion or crusader for the people of this city sat ill with me as well. The more my name spread, the more likely it would be recognized...and the more likely my past would return to haunt me. But this city...it was a stain on the earth.

A stain that had to be removed...
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None Stand Taller (Session 1; Part 4)
I always liked wolves and dogs more. An affinity if you will. When I was a little girl and I was being chased by the feral packs of my wood, I would sometimes pretend myself one of them, leading them on a hunt after a solemn doe. And at night, when the moon lit the sky like a spectral flare, I would hum quietly in tune with the distant howls that would more often than not put me to my slumber. Peaceful, silent, serene meetings with one standing before me, aglow in the pale twilight of the night's celestial sphere.

But it seems my affinity does not stretch to all lupine creatures. I felt the dog's teeth sink into my leg like razors through leather. Were you looking for a clean wound? Hmph, reality is not so soft and painless as one might hope.

I struggled to pull away from the creature, not wishing to harm it. The dog was only following the order of it's master, after all. It was not so different than Silvermane, whom I could still hear quarreling with the other one in the room ahead. And the orc was approaching quickly as well, hefting his axe as he eyed me. Was it hiding a blood rage behind that twisted smile? An interesting analogy...

Sound faded for a moment, all I could feel was my own heartbeat. It was a curious thing to look at life from the grave, but to look at it with one foot still on solid ground...well, that was another thing entirely.

Reality faded back in with the sound of a thunderous roar from the next room and I saw a blur rush through the doorway. The stout form hefted his axe and brought it crashing through the orc's midsection, spilling entrails across the floor. In but a single moment, I was graced to behold the full fury of not just Halkas, but of the might of all dwarves.

With the orc's death, the battle's pace began to pick up. The two of us stood over the battlefield, drenched in the blood of our enemies; but we stood victorious.

I could not bring myself to turn gaze to young Namilos. Had I been but a moment faster, perhaps...I could have done something; perhaps then I could have saved him. My hood, which had fallen since the battle began, laid gently across my back. I lifted it wordlessly and tucked it in to hide my eyes from the scene as I walked past his body, and the form of my dwarven companion whom only stared in disbelief at what had transpired. No words could express the look on the dwarf's face. A mix of sorrow and rage all boiled into one, perhaps even a touch of madness. He and Namilos had been closer than the others of the group; I could not help but wonder if he blamed me in part for failing to protect him...

I walked instead to the slaves. Filth-ridden cretins, all bearing a dragon-like scar across their face. Helpless, pathetic. Our mission had originally been to find them, and find out if Corwyn had been involved in their underground transaction. It was finished......and yet.
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