The Journal of Clive Doubletree

Campaign: Ruins of Arth

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As the time approached I debated what to do. Would I stay aboard the ark, or even the ship, or would I accompany the rest to the ground? I saw little purpose with all of the troops. Each of my companions seemed to have far more behind them than the splinter of the man that remained within.

The Ark made me very uneasy. If Zome had not designed it what would it be but another abomination of the corrupt one. Zome the one eyed still lived, something few men would even know to doubt. Grandmother never mentioned the name until after her first falling, when she almost ready for the Mother's final gift. But she like I had unfinished business.

I was that business. I had yet to see my tenth summer. During the next three years before she finally let go some of the most important lessons to be learned were taught. She had eluded to the boy named Jack I often played with. He had I had been drifting apart for some time and never reconnected until that fateful night.

Now only Jack and I remain beneath the same stars. The ones of the tower seem to have enamored him. That concerns me but if things transpire as my heart feels only he will assure the bargain with Ojanen will hold.

Perhaps with the brief time together I will ask of him how he will avoid making some of the same mistakes. I'd hate to see these dark ones with so much power. It would not be long before one of their own would fall from the Mother's grace. For now I will let the tower stand, the Mother will claim it in her own time.

The instincts of the farmer in me called for a simple solution. Allow the cleansing fire of the Mother's wraith to reclaim our former home. Leave nothing, only the seeds of first plants could claim anything in time. But what has happened will be better in the long run. The Mother's wisdom is unbounded.

The spirit of the boy is still strong within but the farmer is gone save for who he was by my grandmother's passing. Clive is no more, only "Newon," remains. Grandmother had always told me it had been my name in the language of her people. What passed in the instants as the others passed to immortality finally told me what it truly meant.

I did not wish to remain with Adric and Thorgar. In the moments I stole a glance at the Mother, Mara and Miranda in the chamber around me I knew it was not yet time to join the great hunt. My work was still unfinished.

I passed into the moonlit forest, my form now no longer a shadow of Nymar but likely his equal. My instincts were still the same as his mighty white figure leap to the rocks before me. I cowered and tucked my tail until he spoke.

"Rise Newon, as I was the guardian of the past ages you now stand as the guardian of the ages to come."

In the next moment I was the boy, who I had been when grandmother slipped a simple leather pouch into my hand. I sat by the fire with the human manifest of Mara, a scarred white haired warrior, Nymar and a third younger woman I had never met before, Miranda. She smiled at me and her eyes met mine, my human loins stirred at her attention.

In the voice that had seduced gods and men alike she spoke.

"Clive, or as you will be called among men, Newon, the time ahead will be full of trials. Men are curious creatures. There power lies not within a single quality but in their ability to adapt and learn. For the next millennium my Mother calls on you to guide the men of the world back into her reverence, know my sister's light and to seek the nourishment suckling at my own and my daughter's teats and to know the council of my many sons."

The boy in me found the literal idea of Miranda's teat in my mouth enthralling. She smiled at me with a knowing glance and then I found myself again with four legs. Nymar, Mara and I stood on top of a great mountain looking over what must be the entire world.

"Go to your daughters Newon," Nymar began,"teach them well and send them into the world."

Mara continued, "through them the blood of the first guardians continues into the coming age. As Mother first made the watchers to walk among and watch the curious race of men so might they become. But to do so will require a trial. One that you must watch over. Choose the ones you give this gift well, for those who do not understand are doomed to fall into the sway of the unspeakable one."

"How I judge their worthiness I will seek the Mother's guidance, but of the nature of the trial?" I asked.

Mara continued, "the gift is imparted as it always has, with a bite. You will taste the blood of your daughters and lead them through the transformation. The pain of the change is great, to fight it leads to madness. Kill any that cannot accept the gift as the Mother intended no matter how your heart may plead with you. Those who accept the gift must do the same. The gift will enable your daughters to travel swiftly with four legs, to call the packs of the true to their side while being able to walk among men when they need.

Make them understand that anytime they walk on all their legs and the blood of a man is drawn the means of the gift will be given. To leave one alive or unguided will give the unnamed one a new servant. When guided, they will have the strength of the pack with them and with this strength will do the Mother's will.

You must understand this is true of you as well, even though you will never take the form of the man you once were. Only the boy remains, only the boy can walk among men, ever young, as you were on the day you received your grandmother's talisman. So Newon go now and gather your daughters. Teach them first the lessons of your grandmother. Bring them all to know the many gifts the Mother offers so none fear her final gift. Then take them to the world."

I then found myself besides my friend Jack's side. Whether he understood that the next age had just begun I could not be sure. With his familiarity with the creatures of the tower I would be cautious in what I told him. But I knew it was up to me to council him so the new age did not begin as the last had ended.

Session: This is it. - Wednesday, Nov 20 2013 from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
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Smells and other sign...

Should this place had been the first I encountered since beginning to walk on all fours it might have driven me mad. The odors of human societies are for the most part quite familiar, or at least fairly easy to put into context. The cloak and now my form simply augment the sensations I knew as a man. Sensations that are now far more complex and vivid, while these eyes may not see the colors I once knew as well my world is richer in many ways.

This place makes it difficult to relax completely. I never really was completely comfortable on the ship but even now the upper berth I claimed is the most familiar place in all of this difference. I have stole away on several occasions to curl up completely when the need for a deeper sleep calls. Otherwise stretched out on whatever floor of in front of whatever hearth I never completely sleep. Too many things that were strange, voices, smells, sights and sounds that have kept me on nearly perpetual edge. Now that the palace is in possession and as its many hallways and rooms become familiar I do find myself becoming less restless in its confines.

I cannot say I loathe this place as much as it becomes more familiar. It is every bit the nightmare of the best and scariest childhood "morality tale," more vivid in every detail although I have yet to discover the "newly captured child soup" that seemed to be the dish de jour of all of my mother's tales. I would not be surprised to find it but men have a value slightly beyond live stock. I sense a great deal more respect as Adric's "dog" than Jack truly receives. Men are known quantities to these dark ones, even ones with Jack's power. He would be better suited as a fox man in this company.

As we inherited the staff of the palace I have paid some attention to their speech and mannerisms. Some are familiar but I have yet to encounter a man slave who would be old enough to be one of our contemporaries as of yet. It is clear when a slave looses his or her utility they are "used" for other purposes.

Some were clearly born here. The youngest of the man slaves I have seen has maybe lived six or seven summers. They seem to be learning the tasks that will be expected of them in the near future. I can smell younger ones in their quarters but I never hear them. Perhaps they are too used to other "wolves" in their midst that they have learned that silence is life.

Since Adric has accorded some authority to the men of the staff they do seem more chatty. More speech gives me more time to listen. There are some from what used to be our village, or at least from where the toads now roam. I can't help but think that this existence is preferable to the alternative that home has become.

The slaves form the lowest caste of this society. The "common" folk of the city above them with a ruling elite apparently above all. Wedged between are a race of beings that must be one of Zome's more proud creations.

The lower castes of common folk seem to have but one ambition, rise to the elite. Ambitions that for most will never come to be. What power a commoner holds seems to be proportional to what they have to offer their overseer. For most this value ends with a violent death. Grandmother was right about many things.

The elite are cunning enough and individually strong enough to remain in the upper castes for others to notice that they are there. The failure of assent a constant reminder of the risks of power and privilege in this society. The females of the race have an upper hand. Many of the males seem to have too little of the qualities that make a husband useful to his wife in the societies of men and too many of the qualities that too often lead to a premature demise.

Proof of this lies with the fate of those caste off as the collateral damage in the struggle for power. The "dark", supposedly infallibly loyal guardians of the upper tiers are nearly exclusively female. Such an imbalance implies much in this society where guile and might make what is "right." It seems that the value of most males in this society is to die in the most useful way, presumably taking as many others opposed with you as possible.

Adric, or what Adric has become, clearly has thrown this society into a buzz. The new "queen" has taken the hive. Although I cannot help but think that Adric may be more akin to a mantis than a bee. While the elite of the society clearly procreate I suspect it is in this breeding, and the investments made, that truly make for shifts in the balance of power. One does not see, nor do I smell, many females with child in this society.

As the surprise and shock of our arrival wear off Adric is beginning to navigate the more treacherous pathways of politics. He has acquired an adviser who has counseled his to court the "princess" of one of the houses.

He invited her to the ship for a dinner and a brief cruise. Her smell was complex and initially enamoring, at least for me. The feelings of the basal instincts of a man mixed with that of my body were odd. Adric's head has not been bitten off at least as of now. His adviser says there is great power in winning this one, but a fat score of others heads have rolled trying.

Something is different about the smell of her. Something is not quite right. That something is likely the greatest danger. She simply does not pass the "smell test". Her odor is literally distinct in a manner I cannot quite describe. What is it?

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Hammer, Anvil, Forge...
To state that I loathe being here barely begins to describe it. The man in me still remembers the tales of the "dark ones" of the forests to the south. I imagine in some societies tales are told to scare children with shadows of fables. Not so at home, the shadows of our cautionary tales were all around me.

The existence of our two people so close together was always tense. Perhaps the power that some fool sought from the toad was meant as a check of sorts. Peace was always best kept by vigilance and being a little more trouble that the reward that might be had. A simple "don't go there sufficed for most" at least between my immediate kin.

Adric, from what I remember of him as a child was the type that personified the lesson of mother's tales. His charmed life to the point of the portal seems a little clearer now. Its not that all woodsmen fell prey to the dark ones, but it was far more likely with the chance growing with the more chances one was willing to take. Adric was someone my mother told me to avoid but my grandmother always encouraged me to "watch with a wise heart, for there is much to be learned."

Few spoke openly of the dark ones. Grandmother was a quite exception. She had a strong respect for their ways. They used the Mother's gifts well in many ways. The scope of their lives were very different than our own.

We counted on the "complexity" of their society as the best defense of our way of life. To keep a pulse on their nation a few from Adric's kin became our peoples eyes. Adric had many of the talents but always was too easily seen. He was never one who was good at fading into the background. Being seen is something the eyes of the people avoid. Now in this place its clear Adric has always been in the vision of the people of the dark wood.

Our land was consumed by the toads. Our land must be cleansed. The Mother has ways of dealing with those who flaunt her gifts. Where there is wet their is dry. Where their is fire their is ice. Every day of life is another's final gift. Balance is the Mother's way. The toads have disturbed the balance.

Wet places are important but cannot be where they have no purpose in the Mother's way. There is much drying to be done in the land. Impurities in metal are brought out by the heat of the forge. The hammer sparks as the weakness flees its blows against the wall of the anvil. The dark ones seem to be a suitable hammer. Without a forge and an anvil a hammer has little use in purifying.

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Prowling the Night

My grandmother’s guidance always had made the night a friend. Her favorite mushrooms and other delicacies were best gathered at night. While the other boys stayed behind I would accompany her into the night. She taught me to see by the light of the moon alone, or the light of the stars. Torchlight only carries so far. As she grew older she would send me out alone or with a braver cousin.

My younger brother Dirk, the favored one, was very afraid of the dark, my one edge over him. When he would grow to bold for his own good I would simply blow out the candle he would insist be burning while he went to sleep. Mother never bothered to relight it once it was out. My elder brothers would never tolerate his whining but often had to bring in fresh straw for him. I am glad I always contented myself with the cramped upper loft. Neither of my elder brothers found it comfortable and it did stay notably dryer once Dirk left his crib.

I mourn all three of them with a mournful howl for each. By the time the last of my breath is exhausted I find myself again reveling in the wonder of the Mother’s gift to me. Dreams are one thing, but to feel the cool ground truly on four feet is another. Still I needed practice being a wolf. It occurred to me that a distant reply to my howls was not an echo.

Was I ready to meet my other kin? A brief flush of uncertainty curbed my enthusiasm for seeking them out. With the destroyers gone the land around the citadel would hold game again, but territories are meant to be defended against strangers. Doubly true if the stranger is calling from the destroyed landscape around me. I would not be the interloper.

The land around the citadel still reeked of the siege. Much of what they had carried with them was left behind in their haste to depart. I am sure the citadel would take what they could use and leave the rest to the course of the Mother. I moved down the mount of the citadel, on the far side from the return of my soliloquy.

The remains of camps, far less organized than those of men, dotted the hillside. Smells abounded, none pleasant, until I came upon a scent mark. It took me a moment to tease the smell from the background, a fairly fresh mark, I knew it was a male, not a dog or a wolf, similar, but what?

I picked up the trail with ease; three other animals accompanied the male. When I came to some muddied ground the tracks were clear in sight and smell I knew what I was following. At home we called them brush jackals; the reason a shepherd needed a good herding dog. Jackals pose little threat to a healthy goat or sheep but a real threat during lambing.

True wolves kept their distance from the lairs and herds of men most of the time. Jackals are creatures of opportunity and readily test boundaries of both wolves and men; tolerated by neither. Where men hold them in check with sling stones or arrows wolves use their teeth. It was time to practice a somewhat familiar skill with the tools of my new body.

I entered a stalking mode as I tracked the small pack of jackals. Why they were here was not hard to understand, the dead of the siege and the abandoned camps were the opportunities jackals reveled in.

Certainly this quartet had lived on the edges of the camps for some time now. The man in me had no quarrel with them but something in my core being began to lust for blood. With each new scent mark I could feel a different type of anger grow; instinctive anger different than the anger of men.

When I came across a quartet of jackals they were feeding on the corpse of one of the smaller creatures of the siege. The four together may have barely matched my mass but I was not concerned with a fair fight. The male briefly tried to make a stand before their claimed prize, all retreated with their lives.

My new tools needed more practice. Not a mortal victory but a victory none the less. I marked their meal with urine. But even the wolf in me found the claimed meal completely unappealing. The man in me found the pained gruesome face with glassed over eyes too close to human, the wolf in me felt insufficient hunger to settle for what remained. Perhaps if the liver had remained I might have claimed it.

Satisfied with my foray for the night I made for the citadel. The smells from the ship caught my attention and I briefly considered joining my friends. I remembered what they had set to doing and that I wanted little to do with it, so I continued on my path back to the peak of the citadel.

I passed a guard post and entered the citadel making my way to the temple. I found a spot on the floor near a fire pit and slept the balance of the night with full dreams some from the man in me and other of the growing wolf inside. When I stirred in the morning I arose with a satisfying stretch.
Session: Gloom - Wednesday, Sep 11 2013 from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Viewable by: Public
Curing the Blight

The witches minion's hand was guided well. I feel free of a burden long ago acquired. A burden hindering me from fulfilling the will of the Mother.

The blight has been cured. At least here, there is more to be purged elsewhere before it will be my time to join the great pack.

After some questioning and contemplation we discovered the source of the transformation. We, at least three of us, had seen something similar before. A curse in the water.

As the people of the citadel changed it was a gradual affliction. At first nothing more than what a child's rash might be. Then like the stiffness that comes with age, then to stone, then to living crystal. We had seen the final result in the place beyond the portal under the stars. And we had seen its cause without knowing it.

Sure enough deep in the well of the citadel was a crystal pool. Before we could deal with that a breach was made at a gate. The citadel and the answers and potential allies within were in jeopardy. The hoard became another blight needing to be purged, the pool had been slow to act, the hoard would not be so patient.

The hoard consisted of goblins and orcs. Grandmother told stories but until now we had never seen them in numbers. Certainly we have never seen them so well organized either. The larger orcs formed loose berserker mobs while the goblins used crude bows to lob poisoned arrows. There leaders were an orc mage and a shaman.

I tore through a number of the hoard. Faster than any mortal could see my teeth did their work, to the others some of the orcs seemed to simply vaporize.* Jack and Adric took there share as well, Thorgar took the worst of the mage, the hoard was mostly gone by the time he shook off the worst of the lightning the orc mage summoned upon us. All of us had taken a jolt.

As I charged, Thorgar was able to call upon the Mother's strength to bring the others back from the brink. Half way home the mage struck me from my feet. Adric finished the mage in a manner he had dropped so many foes, with arrows. While he no longer holds the Duskwood Bow his arrows with the Mother's blessing did their task well.

Jack and I moved to the gate while Adric and Thorgar were distracted with the possessions of the orc mage. The bulk of the hoard laying siege to the main gate while some sought to exploit the breach. I stepped into the light and let loose a mighty howl that said "flee" to all who heard it. The hoard broke leaving their siege machines and camps in their hurry to escape.

Part of me wanted to pursue, but there were other matters to attend to. With the hoard dispatched Thorgar used the citadel's hottest forge to destroy the crystals in the water. The water that had been the corrupting influence, the cause of the blight. When the crystals melted the people of the citadel were released from the blight. The people of the citadel, and more importantly their soldiers, pledged to our cause.

The others returned to the ship to use the crystal ball. I wanted nothing to do with this. Instead I went the peak of the citadel's mountain and looked to the mountains to north as they arced to the west to the horizon. As the Sun set the mountains turned a thousand colors before Mara's rising turned them to a deep ocher.

I could not tell reds from greens but saw many other colors more vividly than I had through the eyes of the cloak. The air was still thick with the stench of the hoard but a freshening wind from the north brought other distant smells. Trees, soil, game, the land would recover from the hoard.

Session: Gloom - Wednesday, Sep 11 2013 from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
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