Tales from Elrond

Severius' Journal- Fight and Flight

I am not actually sure what is going on here in this ancient Dwarven city that is said to now be the domain of an Elven queen named Aerisi. Following our battle with Windharrow and his troupe, we continued our exploration, wary of a coming conflict as we were sure that Windharrow would warn others of our presence. We fought more Kenku (a race of bird-like humanoids) guards, some of which were accompanied by a robed individual demanding our surrender. We had no intention of doing so, especially after Allegro reported seeing a roomful of what he believed were enslaved commoners that were being forced to turn a massive crank of unknown purpose.

Our foray into this hidden domain had only given us more questions than answers and with the area on high alert from our intrusion, and our party wounded and ill-prepared to continue our explorations in a hostile environment, it was decided to return to the surface and make our rendezvous with Lord Daylon near the farm on the end of the Signing Valley.

We made it back without incident just ahead of a tempest that I have only seen the likes of once before since my time on the surface. Luckily this time we did not have to weather the storm in the open but were relieved to be provided shelter by the halfling family farm owners who Lord Daylon compensated for their hospitality.

As the storm battered the homestead, we discussed our next course of action. Allegro and Biggle were consumed by their rage of Windharrow’s existence and offered little help in what to do next. There was concern about these captives that Allegro reported, and it was brought up that these individuals would offer the very proof we needed to confront Commander Merroska with and convince those not in the Feathergale Society’s inner circle that there was evil in their ranks. A rescue attempt of these captives seemed our best option.

In the morn, we slogged through the wind and rain swept Valley back to the hidden entrance to the Dwarven city. Aszh again proved his expertise at navigating a path to the entrance, picking what was probably the least wet route available. The only incident of note on this trip was a group of ghouls that ambushed us near the river but they were quickly dealt with, with only one of their number escaping our wrath.

Familiar with what lay ahead, we proceeded down the tunnel towards the city overlook, sending Aszh DCD15406-811F-4A68-B2E2-21BAFE6DF532.jpegto investigate the beacon-like cairn that marked the spot where we were challenged by sentries. No sentries were apparent and we were literally taken by surprised when canine-like elemental creatures emerged from the ground and attacked. These creatures focused their attacks on Enna and Allegro and the rest of us did what we could to intercept them. Their composition of earth and air allowed them to use the terrain to their advantage, and their control of the elements proved dangerous when they conjured cyclones of wind-tossed rocks to protect their forms. Our teamwork and abilities provided victory and we banished the creatures back to their native plane. I ask Gorm for his continued protection and guidance in our endeavor.

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Hall of the Crimson Whip

949CDC03-5A41-45C8-BEFC-4DEC6A894E1A.jpegWhile Takashi and Lester wait to be rescued from the oubliette, the rest of their party formulates a plan while recuperating. Now armed with the knowledge of how the magical mirrors and undead guardians work in this place, a safe route is selected to bypass the worst of the mirrors, with the party set up to provide blocking, rearguard and support as needed for the flight out of the room. Fortunately, everything goes according to plan, Lester and Takashi are freed and the entire group makes it back to the safety of the room’s entrance.

After taking a few moments to rest, the party proceeds in search of the next challenge of the Proving. They find it to the west in a large chamber with pools of blood covering the floor, two massive bronze minotaur statues wielding scourges. On the end of the room opposite the entrance are two pedestals each contained a half of a broken sword. Seeing no dangers, but suspecting some, a plan is devised where Lester will use magic to turn himself into gaseous form so he can fly over the blood pools and pick up one of the sword halves. All is well until Lester actually touches one of the sword halves, at which point the room’s defenses are activated. The massive statues animate into twirling objects of destruction, smashing their scourges into anyone in range and pushing them toward the rear of the room. The blood is soon found to be poisonous, and all but Gibbet (with his hardy Dwarven resilience to poison) find prolonged exposure to the substances hazardous. Additionally, several Babau demons rise from the bloody depths and attack. The combination of hazards and guardians soon make for a grinding battle of attrition. The demons, with their abilities to dispel magic and their weakening gaze, are able to isolate Lester from escaping back to the safety of his comrades and soon he is laying on death’s door. Gibbet and Magnara, the party strongest warriors are severely hampered by the Babau’s combination of Heat Metal and Weakening Gaze. With their strength drained away and the discomfort of wielding their weapons and, in Magnara’s case, wearing metal armor hinders their ability to deal damage to their foes.

Eventually, through a steady grind of persistence, healing spells and luck, the party is able to destroy one of the spinning statues and slay the demons one by one, which are not replenished. Eventually, both sword halves are recovered and joined into one when held together. Exhausted, the party takes a much needed rest before proceeding to the next challenge.

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Hall of Enforced Introspection

Following their short rest the group explores further and finds a small temple with an altar made of humanoid bones. On the altar is a book written in Infernal called the the “Book of Wrath Unveiled,” which appears to be a treatise on the Cult of Baphomet. Valyrian takes the book, in case they need it for reference later, and the group continues their exploration and extermination of the Gnolls in the Well of Demons.

Exploring the remaining tunnel branch from the entrance, the group encounters a trio of ghosts- a Dwarf Paladin of Pelor, a human Cleric of Kord and a Elven wizard. They question the party on their motives for being in the Well of Demons and tell them that they too were a group of adventurers that had braved the dangers of the Well only to be killed. Should the party prove to the ghosts that they are worthy, the ghosts will provide helpful information to navigate the upcoming dangers of the Well. The party is able demonstrate their martial and intellectual prowess enough to the satisfaction of the ghosts to tell them that they are entering a section of the Well called the Proving Grounds, an area where worshippers of the demon lord Baphomet competed in a series of challenges to prove their worth. In order to pass the Proving Grounds, the party must find four items: a book, a mask, a knife and a bell, and place these items in separate runic circles which will call forth a Green Dragon Guardian; the party has already found the Book. Wishing them luck, the ghosts fade away.

Proceeding to the north, the party finds their first challenge, an L-shaped room full of mirrored pillars. While navigating from one side of the room to the other, the group finds that the mirrors are magical traps- some drain life energy, some teleport from one side of the room to the other and stun and others trap people in a seemingly inescapable oubliette.

It’s hazardous progress to reach the other end of the room where a curtain blocks the view of the rest of the chamber and soon Gibbet finds that he is the only one remaining (not realizing the others are all trapped in the oubliette). Frustrated by the lack of something to fight, and the disappearance of his companions, Gibbet rushes through the curtain to find a brass altar with a wooden Minotaur mask flanked by giant Minotaur statues. Upon grabbing the mask, the statues transform into Minotaur skeletons and advance on Gibbet. Placing the mask on his head, Gibbet finds that his rage is intensified more so in his wounded state and he goes berserk, attacking the Minotaur skeletons in a frenzy. He actually makes quick work of the skeletons and notices a large hand-shaped impression on the altar that was originally covered by the mask. Desperate to find his comrades, Gibbet places his hand in the impression and transports everyone out of the oubliette back into the room. Unfortunately, this also reforms the Minotaur skeletons and these (and two others that Gibbet did not see in a different part of the chamber) attack the party.

What follows is a desperate battle where the party fights the Minotaur skeletons while dealing with the dangers of the magical mirrors. Lester is sent back to the oubliette another time and released by his companions only to have the Minotaur skeletons reform to battle again. Eventually the party flees from the room with the mask, too wounded and out of spells to continue the fight, but know they have to rest and return to save Lester and Takashi who were again transported to the oubliette.

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Severius Journal- "Windharrow"

BF8C868C-E50F-40EB-9809-3E4F378B4D9B.jpegWindharrow. The name of an individual I have heard Allegro talk much about, and always in a context of hatred and vengeance. Allegro spoke of Windharrow inflicting some great pain on him in the past, that he stole something of great import, and that he would not rest till he recovered what was taken and killed Windharrow.

Not being from the outside world, I was not familiar with Windharrow, but according to Biggle, he was world renowned for his musical talents. A spectacular performer who wowed audiences of elite and common alike. I thought Biggle’s opinion of Windharrow a direct contrast to Allegro’s. Thus I was completely surprised when upon the group finally meeting Windharrow and his troupe, both Allegro and Biggle asked for his death.

We found Windharrow in the hidden subterranean ruins of a Dwarven city that was part of Tyar-Besil, which we were told by Lord Daylon were being utilized by the inner circle of the Feathergale Society. The area was guarded by individuals that did not tolerate visitors and after defeating some majick-using sentries and braving a hail of arrows through the kill zone of an ancient Dwarven gatehouse, we entered the city proper. Thus far in our exploration, only Windharrow and his troupe were the only beings that we have encountered that were open to communication. That was until first Allegro and then Biggle attacked him.

Windharrow seemed open to conversation, and he was certainly pleasant and charming, not the monster that Allegro made him out to be. Before Biggle initiated his attack, Windharrow actually told us that the Dwarven city was now the domain of an elven queen named Aerisi, who had hired Windharrow for an upcoming gala. Windharrow even offered to ask the queen to allow us passage to explore her realm. Windharrow seemed nice enough, even helpful, and I was taken back when Biggle suddenly unleashed majick in an attempt to enthrall Windharrow and his troupe following a curious conversation about Windharrow’s dulcimer.

Windharrow and his troupe showed they were capable both at song and music, and they put up quite a fight. Our party found itself rocked by magical spells that shattered stone and eardrums alike, hurled from the bards’ instruments. Only Windharrow escaped via majick, leaving his fellows to die by our hands. Thinking back, I’m still not sure what happened, and I’m not sure why things escalated to violence so quickly by some of my companions. Regardless, I’m sure Windharrow has warned the Queen of our presence, and hostile tendencies, and have no doubt that she will send forces to kill or capture us.

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Resurrection and Reinforcements

Upon arriving at the Seven-Pillared Hall Meredith abandons the party in disgust, disappointed in their inability to cleanse the Well of Demons and the death of Lester (who she believes will incur the wrath of Asmodeus for his failure), she tells the party that they have a tenday to finish cleansing the Well of the gnolls before she returns with a Duergar raiding party to finish the job (and take the glory).

Caring more about bringing their dead friend back from the dead, Magnara and Takashi are not the least bit sadden to see Meredith go and their interest in doing Asmodeus’ work would not be a concern at all if it was not for the worry about what the arch-devil would do to Lester if he failed. With Ulthand Deepgem’s giant boar carrying Lester’s body. The group makes their way through the streets and are almost to their destination when Magnara is accosted by a tiefling named Valyrian.

Apparently Valyrian has been seeking out the Dragonborn Paladin ever since he discovered that Magnara was the one responsible for dispatching the Bloodreaver slavers that had been terrorizing the Nentir Valley. Valyrian spoke of learning from the Dragonborn as a squire of sorts, but his capabilities were more magical than martial.

Valyrian wasn’t the only one looking for the group. After dropping off Lester’s body to the care of Ulthand (who was extremely grateful for the return of his boar and offered to conduct the ritual to bring back Lester as a token of his appreciation), Takashi and Magnara were approached by a dwarf named Gibbet Ironbrow who was a friend of their former party member (now deceased) Joreal. Learning news of his friend’s death and surprised to hear that Joreal had allowed another former party member, the dwarf Dovak, to remain alive, Gibbet seemed confused at this turn of events, saddened at the loss of his friend and offered his services to the party as a way to finance his trip back home to Mirabar. Unsure what to make of all this new interest in their group, Takashi and Magnara tell Valyrian and Gibbet to wait for them at the Halfmoon Inn to see if they’ll accept their assistance.

There was still one more surprise guest, which Magnara found when he sought Surina at the Temple of Hidden Light. The Dragonborn warlock was not there, but a young human woman with a familiar resemblance to Lester was. This woman, Gwen, told of a fantastical story of how she was Lester’s daughter from a woman that was a crew member from a ship that Lester took passage on a year ago. Caught up in a storm after her birth, Gwen found herself in an alternate world of sorts where she was taken in by a temple of the deity Apollo. Raised as a cleric of the god, Gwen sought to return to her father’s world to seek him out. Her wish was granted as another strange storm caught her ship and she arrived in Lester’s world a grown woman despite only a year in time passing in Lester’s world. Magic was indeed strange.D8855E6B-2839-4D9B-8E72-D2359A6D9510.jpegWith Lester restored and recuperating after the successful ritual, Magnara and Takashi decided to accept the help of these new companions. They appeared capable enough and the days were ticking down on Meredith’s ultimatum.

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The Death of a Friend

The element of surprise gone, Lester, Magnara, Takashi and Meredith continue deeper into Well of Demons on their task of cleansing the demon-worshipping gnolls. The gnolls are on alert now, and when the party breaches a door the gnolls ambush them from cover made of a barricade of hay bales while hyenas attack. In this room the party also see a holding pen containing a giant enraged boar wounded by gnoll arrows and struggling to free itself. They suspect that this is the pet of the Dwarven cleric Ulthand Deepgem, who spoke of its disappearance after a gnoll attack.

Magnara charges through volleys of arrows to close into melee with some of the enemy while his companions engage with range and spell attacks. While the hyenas are easily dispatched, the gnolls prove to be organized and skilled enough to break up the assault, separating the party and bringing them down one by one despite their losses. Magnara is the first to fall, and revived by a healing potion administered by Lester just before Lester himself is taken down as collateral damage by Meredith’s magical flame strike spell to the area.

Takashi finds himself is a desperate melee while being peppered with arrows. Luckily, the giant boar finally manages to break free and unleashes its rage on the nearest gnolls and Takashi falls unconscious dying from his wounds as the boar battles the gnolls. Magnara uses a healing potion to revive Lester and as Meredith is dispatching the last of the gnolls, Lester manages to befriend and heal the giant boar with a healing potion and Takashi is brought back from the brink of death. Exhausted, their magic depleted and with a need to heal their wounds, the group decides to take a short rest barricading themselves in the gnoll bunk room they passed earlier.

Impatient with the delay, Meredith urges the group to continue their work after the short break. Wary of the dangers they lay ahead in their weakened state, the party decides to try to clear out one more small section before retiring back to Seven-Pillared Hall to recuperate. Upon breaching a door to what appears to be a bedchamber, the group finds themselves in a battle with a formidable opponent that appears to be a demonic-warped gnoll. As Magnara does battle with the foul creature, his allies intercept two robust ape-like demons that come running to its aid. The melee becomes a desperate one indeed as the demonic foes prove to be quite resilient and quite capable of inflicting damage. The group is victorious, but the victory is short-lived when they realize that Lester has been killed. 7D3D2B05-B526-4491-A68D-14A0F5F8B8BF.jpeg

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Severius' Journal- A Brief Walk in the Depths and Horrific News

Opening the trapdoor, we proceeded down an iron ladder into the depths of a subterranean realm of Dwarven construction- Dovak was certain of that and also suspected it was of the same style that existed in the caverns deep beneath the Sacred Stone monastery. Still not fully recuperated from our battle with Dryflagon, we decided this was only going to be a cursory inspection to see what lay below.

I heard Dovak get challenged by a gruff voice in the dark and unhappy with the response he provided, a group of hobgoblins attacked us at range from a rock barricade that guarded deeper passage. With the exception of Biggle and Allegro, our party was not hindered by the dark and we engaged hobgoblins. They were dispatched, proving only a slight challenge due to our already weakened state.

A search of their bodies revealed that they were wearing tabards displaying the same strange symbol that the iron collars of the hell hounds that attacked us had and we grew wary of continuing our exploration further where we were sure more opposition would face us. It was decided we should exit and head to the Feathergale Spire to make our now-delayed meeting with Lady Sarva and address her concerns about an evil inner circle within the Feathergale Society’s ranks, including their leader Thul Merroska.
7120B6C2-2AB2-4400-B8CF-BFB10553E7B8.png
We were halfway to our destination, carefully rolling our wagon over the Sumber Hills, when we spotted a hippogriff rider being pursued by four vulture riders. The hippogriff rider was attired as a Feathergale Knight and his pursuers had the same appearance as the people that attacked us unprovoked weeks earlier. It was clear the Feathergale Knight was heading toward us and he was brought down a couple hundred feet from our position. Alive, but trapped under his wounded mount, the Knight struggled to fight off his pursuers, some of which broke off to prevent us from assisting.

A desperate battle ensued and, despite our depleted spells and yet to be healed injuries, we were victorious- slaying the vulture riders and their mounts, while saving the Feathergale Knight and its mount, which we were surprised to find was Lady Savra’s mount, Sky Dancer. We also found that we knew the Knight, Lord Daylon, the stablemaster of the Feathergale Society, who we met during our visit.

Once his condition was stabilized, Lord Daylon shared a horrific tale that gave us great cause for concern, despair and, at least for me, guilt that we did go to assist Savra earlier. He told us Lady Savra was dead, murdered by Merroska’s own hand as a sacrifice to an entity named Yan-C-Bin. Lady Savra had made some of her inquires about the Society’s inner circle to the wrong members and she was seized and killed for her actions, stabbed and thrown from the top of the Spire. Daylon, a member of the inner circle, but seemingly unexposed to the nefarious activities that were done as part of their servitude to Yan-C-Bin, disagreed with Merroska’s actions and his voiced opposition only marked his death. Luckily, with our later assistance, he survived.

It was clear that Daylon was telling the truth, I could see that he cared for Savra in a manner that was more than just friends. He loved the woman but respected her marriage to another. He was trapped in a personal torment trying to reconcile his feelings and Savra’s unavailability. His love gave him conviction and he only sought to have vengeance on Merroska and his inner circle.

Hearing of Savra’s death, and Daylon’s grief, Bruldenthar told us about one of the few remaining maintained places of the Dwarven kingdom of Tyar-Besil, a place of religious pilgrimage for Dwarves called the Vale of Dancing Waters. This place was a shrine to the great Dwarven god Moradin, and it is known to bring the dead back to life if Moradin, or his wife, the goddess Berronar Truesilver, believed the requestor was working toward a great and honorable goal of Dwarven import. Upon hearing this, hope was born and there was much to plan.5DB58068-7772-4CB6-AFE0-BE648E25CCE8.jpeg

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Severius’ Journal- “ Into the Breach”

I feel sadness at the departure of such honorable and courageous people. Were it not for the druids that decided to join me and confront Elizar Dryflagon about my missing comrades and the true nature of the Rite of the Wicker Man ceremony, all would have been lost. My comrades would most likely be dead and life, possibly all life, in this Valley as well. To the druids that made the ultimate sacrifice to stop Dryflagon’s plans, I give them the utmost respect and ask that Gorm ensure their safe passage to whatever plane they hold as sanctuary in the afterlife.

As I sit here penning these words, as my comrades and I rest and tend to our wounds, I wonder what it is that is plaguing the Dessarin Valley. This is more than the simple locating and rescue of abducted caravan members. There is too much going on. Erratic weather patterns. Strange factions, such as the monks of the Sacred Stone Monetary and the fire druids of the Circle of the Scarlet Moon, interested in an unknown, but seeming nefarious agenda. The sudden aggressiveness of the Iceshield Orcs and the numerous stories of strange happenings that my band has yet to investigate. I feel there is an underlying reason that ties all of these things together. Such a small area to be the focus of such strange activity begs the question.

Only three of our druid allies remain alive after the battle that vanquished Dryflagon- Gariena, Varigo and Suruki. None of them wish to accompany us through the hatch that we discovered on the ground floor of Scarlet Moon Hall. Avenging their comrades’ death and stopping the Rite of the Wicker Man was their main concern, and with these things accomplished, they have decided to return to their homeland. We depart as friends, and I look forward to meeting them again, perhaps in more pleasant circumstances.

The last thought I wish to pen is about a strange dream I had following the battle with Dryflagon. It was more than a dream, I am sure, as I believe it was Gorm speaking directly to me. I have not heard from Gorm since his direction for me to leave Cyndicea and travel to the world above ground to spread the faith. His message was unclear, and I will have to pray further on its meaning, but I get the sense that I must return to Summit Hall, the headquarters of the Order of the Knights of Samular. The message inferred grave news and a need for my presence. I do not know when I will be able to go to Summit Hall as several pressing matters are at hand to attend to, but I will let my companions know of my dream and my intent.

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Severius’ Journal- Scarlet Moon Hall Battle Royale!!

By the time the fires finally died we had lost more of our newfound allies. The battle was intense and were it not for the assistance that Biggle and I had gathered to our cause before confronting Dryflagon we would surely have perished.

B66BCFD0-9F20-4331-82B8-38798C6328F7.jpegWhen we initially confronted the Druid leader he tried honeyed words to sway the masses, while puffing casually on his pipe, but his skills at persuasion were child’s play when compared to my teachings as a priest of Gorm. I was taught since birth to influence others, to inspire courage, devotion and yes fear, fear of the unknown, fear of what Dryflagon’s true intentions were with his foul ceremony.

Seeing his efforts at speech craft failing, Dryflagon turn to violence. Unleashing fiery majicks and summoning a being from the elemental plane of fire from the giant Wicker Man. More of his followers emerged from the ruined abbey to join the battle and soon there was the smell of burnt flesh from the dead and dying on both sides. I saw nothing of the mercenaries that Biggle had hired to protect me, but I had no need of them for Gorm saw to my safety, gave strength to my cause and used me as his divine vessel to punish the wicked.

Though it cost us dearly, we pushed through the tough resistance and Dryflagon and his followers sought refuge in the abbey forcing us to ascend the wooden scaffolding that lead to the breach in the upper wall that served as its only entrance. It was during these last moments of the battle that we found my companions- Aszh, Dovak and Enna unconscious and bound in the tents surrounding the abbey, wounded but alive. I give thanks to Gorm for their return.

The scaffolding finally collapsed from the flames as Dryflagon made his escape into the abbey and my companions and I saw no need to immediately pursue him into unknown danger while many of us were on the brink of death from our wounds. No longer sustained by the majick of the Scarlet Moon Druids, their giant Wicker Man succumbed to the flames and collapsed. It made a nice bonfire to rest by as we planned our next course of action.

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Severius Journal- "Call for Aid!"

As Biggle and I recuperated from our battle and conversed with Gariena, Allegro stumbled into our midst, frantic and wounded. He told us that he and the rest of the group had been attacked by the Druids of the Scarlet Moon after Aszh tried conversing with them. He seemed to think that Aszh caused some type of confrontation. The Druids summoned a creature made of fire and killed the party, only Allegro was able to escape. Aghast, Biggle and I couldn’t bear to believe such news, though Allegro insisted on seeing it.

Biggle and I were eager to check on the status of our comrades and find out the reasons for the hostilities with the Druids of the Scarlet Moon, but we were also wary of danger, considering the battle we had just been involved in, and the potential battle to come. We enlisted Gariena for aid, and the elf, still angered at the murder of her friends, agreed to help us. We then approached the first Druids that we met upon our arrival at site of the Wicker Man Rite and explained to them what has befalling both our party and Gariena’s. They seemed concerned but not quick to judge the altercation without more information. They explained to us that the leader of the Circle of the Scarlet Moon, a man named Elizar Dryflagon, told them the Rite of the Wicker Man was a complicated and delicate Rite that could not be disrupted before it’s completion. Perhaps Aszh and his group had disturbed this Rite and action had to be taken. Regardless, these Druids (Varigo, Mahoon, Inari and Fariya) agree to accompany us to speak with Dryflagon and inquiry about our comrades.

Deciding to warn others, and perhaps garner more support, we decided to talk with another camp’s inhabitants, two Druids accompanied by a bear. The conversation went pleasant enough (the bear was very agitated) and we departed ways with this pair on what we thought were neutral, if not friendly, terms and were quite surprised when they sent a pair of fireballs to erupt in our midst while we walked away. We survived this treachery, just barely and immediately counterattacked. Our newfound Druid companions joined us in the fight and the battle was quick and brutal. The two Druids that attacked us lay dead and their bear liberated by Varigo, though their fire spells nearly cost myself and Varigo our lives.

After attending to the wounded, we started towards the ruined abbey, now called the Scarlet Moon Hall, and stopped at two other camps to provide warning and enlist aid in our endeavor. The Druids at one camp, which included a sea Druid named Sauruki, agreed to accompany us but would hold judgement until they heard from Dryflagon; Sauruki Did shared with us that he too felt some apprehension about this Rite of the Wicker Man.

The last of our following were two rough-looking men who spoke little but appeared to be no strangers to violence. Biggle believes they are perhaps mercenaries, and paid them a generous fee to protect me should hostilities commence. They accepted his gold, and nonchalantly followed. I’m not sure they can be trusted, and still don’t understand their interest in this Wicker Man Rite, but if they earn their gold then I guess that’s all that matters for the time being…

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