Aetah: Dreams of the Deep

Seren's Journal III

- 6 -

We must leave this place immediately. It will not be long before the missing soldiers are sought after by their superiors and our collective actions come to light.

Unsatisfied with our already poor reputation amongst those working for the usurper prince, the warlock took great pains to find and rob the camp of the soldiers we killed. While I cannot say that the horses he took are without their uses, horse thieves are not looked upon fondly in human lands.

Our cohort grows as well. I was surprised to see another grey elf so far from the isles, but it would seem that she is not from the Grey City itself and is, disappointingly, a wildling. Risa, she calls herself. It is just as well, spending time with a rough and undignified group such as this has worn at my own dignity and I would likely embarrass myself in the company of another from the cities. Since our goals seem to be to hide from civilization, perhaps her druidic skills will be an asset to us.

- 7 -

Wilderness. We just had to get ourselves as far from the roads as possible.

Circumstance keeps placing me in situations where I cannot take advantage of my strengths. Perhaps I should begin planning according to the least convenient thing that could possibly happen. I hadn’t anticipated needing to rely on my rations so soon, but here I am, on some filthy excuse for a horse, ambling around in a backwoods I do not remotely recognize, trying to reach some location known only to Lucila all the while avoiding travelled roads in order to keep from assassination. I wonder if the latter option isn’t the superior one at this point.

I am concerned that I did not acquire enough food. I am also concerned that barely anyone in our group knows how to navigate in the wilds. The wildling has hindered her ability to communicate her knowledge to us because she has chosen to take the form of a horse and act as the queen’s steed. An undignified gesture, even for a wildling, but our employer is pleased with it.

As a group, we are beginning to tire of each other’s company. The halfling and the ranger have been squabbling since we left town. Some of our company insists on wasting energy setting up and taking down tents when both I and the warlock have spells at our disposal that provide more safety than a tent. The warlock has chosen to be petty and refuses to allow others into his “hut”, forcing me to share with everyone who needs it.

Sharing with so many people has made it difficult for me to focus on my research of new wards when I inevitably come out of my trance before they wake. At least I am getting practice with the basics as I place alarms all about the camp.

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Seren's Journal II

- 5 -

Ordinarily, a night’s rest would assist me in composing my thoughts so that I can better reason clearly in the face of any problems that have arisen. My current circumstances are far from ordinary.

I began my day by meeting some dragonborn who was evidently traveling with my other newly-acquainted…cohorts. She is as uncouth as the rest of them (well, as much as the dwarf at any rate—the warlock is set upon revealing new levels of vulgarity hitherto undiscovered). She also believes that she is related to the dragonling the dwarf is toting around.

I was so taken aback by the absurdity of it all that I failed to record this earlier; the dwarf had been carrying a dragon egg in her bosom, which then hatched, which she now is attempting to tame. This is a phenomenally terrible idea on every measure. If the dragon that laid that egg is still alive, it will likely be very upset when it finds us. If the dragon was slain and the dragonling is orphaned, then we will still have to contend with individuals who believe they have a better purpose for it when they see it—particularly if those responsible for slaying it are alive themselves. After all, a personal dragon is very desirable, even if it takes a mortal lifespan to reach adulthood. Dragon parts also have their uses as components for potions, rituals, and magical trinkets—or simply as rare jewelry. The dwarf has already proven a complete ineptitude for subtlety and deception, so it is only a matter of time before she attracts the wrong sort of attention.

So of course the dragonborn is convinced that she’s related to it. Never mind that her people were created by dragons as servants and that similarities in appearance are due to the aesthetic senses of dragons more than any sort of blood relation. I suppose it’s not impossible, given how dragon heritage is often responsible for sorcerous blood, but in the same way that it’s not impossible that the Ice Queen is my sister. She’d find good company among dragon cultists.

More reasonably, Lady Lucila has decided to relocate the queen (and by extension, those of us who are working for her) to some place that isn’t a ruined keep. It came down to a vote between sailing across the sea to a safer kingdom that wasn’t in political turmoil over the queen, or to a riskier location on the coast where we would have a better opportunity to find sympathizers to help reestablish her rule. I appreciate safety, but it was going to get us further from our goals, and cast my vote to stay in the country. Oddly, it came down to a tie, which was only broken because the barbarian prefers to put himself in situations where he risks death and bodily harm—and because this mindset appeals to my traveling companions, all of whom changed their votes afterwards.

She did not want to remain on the island for long, so we essentially just had time to gather supplies at the unexceptional village nearby before thrusting far too many people into far too small a boat. Some others, such as the cleric and the herbalist decided to accompany us off the island. It was a long, nauseating journey that needed to end far earlier than it did. The herbalist told me that there are no remedies for seasickness, but she may have said so out of spite. I will need to do further research in the event that I need to be on a boat again. It is not only disgusting to have half of the crew dispersing the contents of their stomachs into the sea, but also impractical. Thankfully, I was able to maintain enough composure not to embarrass myself and was only miserable on the voyage.

As with our last voyage, we came to land to find a commotion. This one was much less spectacular than the lightning at the island, but still plenty dangerous. There was a large group of soldiers attacking a halfling and a tiefling. My mercenary companions leapt out of the boat and into combat, abandoning the very queen we were supposed to be protecting.

I don’t know the exact details of that altercation, because I chose to rush the queen (making the fascinating discovery that humans are much heavier than they appear to be) and Lucila to a location that wasn’t filled with armed men intent on their destruction. The boy was still sick from the journey or I would have brought him along too. We fled without incident, but had there been another group of guards, at least they would have had some protection. I found an appropriate dwelling and left Elbereth with them while I returned to the scene of the conflict.

It was largely unnecessary. My bloodthirsty associates had finished the guards and were in the process of rummaging through their corpses. Looking for coinage and notes, I could see the purpose of (I myself have investigated the contents of more than one fallen wizard’s pockets after mishaps at the Tower)—but undressing them and dismantling their armor in the hopes of wearing it? I would be wholly unsurprised to learn that my cohorts engaged in cannibalism.

What my cohorts don’t engage in, is subtlety. The fight apparently started because of the soldiers asking about the queen and her sympathizers. I don’t quite understand how the halfling, who appropriately proclaimed that she was known as Blurt the Loquacious (and that she did not know the meaning of the word) got involved or why she escalated it over a wooden bowl, but the tiefling got involved when she stepped in to protect her. The tiefling, sensibly and inconveniently, was asking questions about our affiliation with the queen, particularly towards the dwarf. You know, the one who has demonstrated a complete inability to deceive or misdirect. I rushed in on her behalf (and the queen’s) to cover up her mistake and keep our affiliation secret, but the tiefling was acting as the center of a truth-determining spell and thus immediately saw through my deception. It was unusual that I did not notice stepping into its field, as the effects of those types of spells are supposed to be immediately obvious. I will need to study this when I get the opportunity.

Of course, my new tiefling friend took offense at being lied to. Keeping a secret in order to protect a life takes lower presidence than principle, apparently. Shame that somebody keen enough to ask the right questions is too dense to understand why she gets the right answers. Strangely, the dwarf had managed to earn her trust in the short time since they’d met and managed to convince her that I too am trustworthy.

Interesting.

Those of us who know him have collectively decided that the warlock, however, is not to be trusted. I fail to recall the question the tiefling asked him, but he refused to answer. She found this satisfactory, curiously. Perhaps his response makes him more of a known quantity to her? I am unsure. Trust is something to use sparingly. So are abilities like her truth-detection circle. No amount of divination will protect you from your own conclusions.

There was also some wretched-looking human looting the corpses with the others. He claimed that he was looking for food. I understand that he stabbed some of the soldiers to death…when they were fleeing. He is clearly not who he says he is. The warlock seems to be fond of him, which is an excellent sign of character. The timing of his appearance is concerning, and I wonder what his affiliations truly are.

Something is bothering me about this event, and I can’t quite place it. There’s an energy that fills me with restless unease and I don’t know why.

Lady Lucila, having left Ilana in a safe location, showed up at this point—and hired these new people we just met. I understand that times are desperate and that there is little room to be particular, but I strongly question the wisdom of hiring the wretch and the halfling. We already have few people who exercise discretion in our collective, do we need more impulsive troublemakers to restore the queen to her throne? What are they going to do when we finally get back into a court environment?

Humans are impossible.

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Seren's Journal I

- 1 -

I despise these wretched human lands.

Thanks to my obligations to that madman, I have been stuck in Whiteport for so long that I myself am going mad. I have been sustaining myself by offering my services to the nobility here, but it is all a frustrating endeavor and I am learning nothing that will further my abilities or bring me closer to ending my contract so that I may return home.

At this point, Whiteport has been passively under siege for…some while. I have been less than diligent about keeping track of time. I am unclear as to why this siege is happening. The city is mostly conducting business as usual, but I doubt it will be sustainable for long.

Now is a good time to get out.

- 2 -

After making inquiries as to who outside this city could use my services, I was approached by a noblewoman, her bodyguard, and a child. She is offering me a great sum to accompany them to an isolated location. She introduced herself as Lady Lucila, though that is clearly not her full name. She conducts herself as well as a human can, I suppose, though the same cannot be said for her attendant.

She is certainly withholding important information. Unfortunately, I am desperate to leave and her offer is good. This is either a trap, an impossible task, or both. Hopefully this will not end in my being sacrificed in order to use my magical fae blood in some sort of ritual.

We will be setting sail in a few days.

- 3 -

I am beginning to doubt my employer’s means of paying me. Our vessel is a slovenly old dinghy that is unsuited to people of our station. Furthermore, I fail to understand why we are bringing a child, of all people, along on this excursion.

To add further insult, they hired an uncivilized barbarian whose “conversation” I have been forced to endure for the extent of our journey. I am apparently to work with this person for whatever task it is they have us doing.

Perhaps it would be a mercy if all of this does turn out to be a trap. At least then I would not have to listen to this clod speak any longer.

- 4 -

Where do I even begin?

We finally reached shore only to find a burning keep being overrun with unspeakably disgusting vermin. Lucila and the child stayed behind while the rest of us followed her bodyguard up to the keep.

Up in the walls of the keep, a group of other people were doing battle with these vermin and their leader. A creature called Netherfang (christened “Netherfuck” by the ever-so-eloquent dwarf) evidently had been summoning and commanding these chitinous abominations. It was summarily defeated before I had the opportunity to get within the walls. After it fell, our combined groups cowed the chitins into retreating.

It was at this point that I had the dubious fortune of acquainting myself with these individuals. There was a human in armor, a cleric it seems, who I have not had the opportunity to converse with. The dwarf with the badger immediately set about rifling though the corpse of the creature formerly known as Netherfang. Strangely, she was one of the less off-putting people I’ve met in the past several days. She is a studious naturalist and has diligently taken notes over her travels, compiling them into an encyclopedia. I can respect that.

Then there is the other one. It is as if the fates have conspired to grind my dignity into dust. A half-breed warlock with the most embarrassing magical predilections. He lacks any finesse and his primary use of magic is essentially offensive pyrotechnics. His immediate course of action after the cessation of battle was to attempt to eat the vermin. These on their own would be bad enough, but no, this man is the first person with any arcane expertise that I have met in ages. Two arcanists can always do more than one…and I must work with him to expand my grimoire.

We regrouped and went inside the part of the keep that was still intact. I met one more individual, a sanctimonious herbalist harboring petty superstitions about my kind. Hopefully I will not need to collaborate closely with her.

It was then that my employers introduced themselves to the others and explained to all of us the reason for their presence at the keep. The king of Hisalia is dead. The child is his heir. The boy I had been calling her bodyguard, is her cousin. Human politics are frustratingly mortal.

I was blessed with great fortune to be an attendant of the child queen’s coronation. In this squalid, blood-splattered keep. Long live the queen, though she is mortal, so it will not be long enough. Assuming she survives.

I want to go home.

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