Laria

Thaon's Journal: Entry #3

Dear Journal,

Tyrik has been banished, and Lauker and I now sit along the wall of the Ruined Tower, taking our much needed rest. It is a cool evening, and from this vantage point we can see the eastern lands sprawled out before us, rolling down from the mountains and forming a wide valley. From a distance I can hear the water of the river, and I can see it cutting a shimmering path through the dusky land, winding its way westward. Near the horizon, where the river dwindles from view I can see the faintly twinkling lights of Valley Falls. May its citizens rest safely in their beds tonight, now that the undead menace has temporarily subsided. I believe that I can almost feel the land waking up again, as the heavy burden of evil energies is lifted. It seems fairer and greener than it was before, and around the Ruined Tower the evening birds have returned and are letting out their peaceful songs. It is a good feeling here, and I do hope it lasts. But we cannot cease our vigilance. Although there is hope that the lich king Nayo may seek peace, the realm still may be in danger. It will be difficult for my mind to be at ease unless Nayo too is banished, and his soul takes the same path that all mortal souls must take once they reach their end.

Nayo cannot be forgiven for the crimes of the past, and such horrible crimes they were. I have read the histories, and the War of the Dead was one of the most destructive and atrocious of conflicts. Countless innocent people died, and the land was marred by war and fel energies for many years. If Nayo truly desires peace, then let him accept justice. Let his soul depart this plane forever. For how can he be allowed to dwell freely and peacefully in this realm after having slaughtered so many? What service would we be doing to the memories of the fallen, and to their descendants who live today? No, Nayo cannot merely be forgiven. Once upon a time he was a human, but he gave up his body and soul for eternal life. Now let him face eternal death, as did the victims of his terrible war. That would be true peace, if peace is what he seeks. But in good faith we will meet with Nayo, for his role in defeating Tyrik cannot be overlooked.

On the morrow we should report to Valley Falls on the defeat of Tyrik, and request they send messengers to Esterlin and the rest of Amaron Vale to spread the word. We might also inform them of Nayo’s proposition of peace… But we shall think on this. I have decided that there is only one way that I will be able to trust Nayo. He must hand over his phylactery. We will bring his phylactery before the leaders of the realm and let them decide his fate. If Nayo truly wants peace, then we should accept nothing less than that, for in order to make amends he must submit himself to the will of the region, and be ready to accept his true and final death if the people of Amaron Vale so decide. We await word from Nayo’s Emissary, then we will go speak with the lich on behalf of the people of the realm.

But my eyelids grow heavy, and now that I finish this journal entry the evening birds have taken to their nests for the night. Let this valley have peace but for a little while, and we will see what the morning sun brings. Til next time, journal.

Thaon of the Talons

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Thaon's Journal: Entry #2
The Tower is Cleared

What a blur today has been! Our friend Rykus, the elf ranger, has suddenly left for home, after learning some dire news regarding his family. Me and the halfling Lauker said a very brief goodbye, and had nothing else going for us besides to investigate the old tower east of Valley Falls as we had planned. After a few hours travel we came to the entrance to the tower, and the presence of walking corpses told us we had come to the right place. Lauker and I began dutifully to put down the unnatural creatures, but it seemed we were not the only ones seeking entry into the tower that day. We found ourselves fighting alongside a summoner and his beast, may have had some serious trouble had they not been there. Half of the undead were crushed by the beast’s huge limbs. After the dust settled the summoner seemed aloof towards us, but not hostile. Too proud to actually agree to joining with us, the summoner came along as we entered the tower, and did assist greatly in the many bizarre episodes we endured before reaching the top. What a strange labyrinth of otherworldly puzzles! It seems the necromancer was looking only to fight the cleverest of opponents. But into his chamber we stormed, and the summoner’s beast proved immensely useful in handling the necromancer’s minions while the halfling and I took the lich head-on. He is dead now… well, more dead than he was. We rest now in his chamber at the top of the tower, where there is a wide balcony that looks over the plain.

We’ve still learned nothing regarding the reason why this is happening to our realm. As the lich died, he seemed to imply that he had little to do with the undead hordes. Another dead end, if you may excuse the pun. Maybe the answer lies deeper in the mountains. On the morrow we’ll investigate this chamber fully and decide on a next course of action.

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Laukers Journal Entry #1B
Written on the next page of the journal 15 minutes after first one

Wintervale Assignment Entry #1

I needed to clear my head. I know the importance of the journal and why the Talons require it from their agents. Nothing like having a brush with death to put you in a foul mood. Being part of the Talons has provided me with much adventure with good friends, but never have we faced such an overpowering adversary.

The words from my previous entry were those of frustration, fear, and paranoia. I don’t have the skills of fortitude as my dwarven companion, so I need to do better and not getting overwhelmed. This assignment has gotten dangerous very quickly and I can’t allow myself to get rattled, our lives may depend on it.

Tomorrow we set off to the tower to the east to investigate. I need to get some rest, if what has happened in the past 2 days is any indication of what is to come, then I need to be well rested and alert.

If my parents were to ever watch over me and protect me, I hope that it is now.

-Lauker

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Laukers Journal Entry #1

Wintervale Assignment Entry #1

Why must I write in you? What use will I get from writing in you? There are skeletons risin from the dead, people dyin, and demons runnin amok yet I have to write… It absurd and time consuming. How can Thaon sit there calmly and write in his journal as if he is writing a short story?

Here is what happened. We came to inspect a goblin infestation, there was a daemon, we barely made it alive, when we got back to town, an army of skeletons attacked us. We decided to meet our Talon contact in Esterlin but had to stop in Valley Falls. More skeletons attacked.

I don’t have time for details, more skeletons could attack us at any moment..

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Thaon's Journal
Entry #1

Hello, journal. I write now in haste, exhausted, by the light of a single candle. We rest now at the inn at Valley Falls, and it seems all the land around us is invested with evil. The undead assault this realm and seem to pour from every crevice. And what’s worse, we cannot hope to defeat them all. But to use an analogy, what does one do when a dam breaks? Do you take a mop and hopelessly try to sop up the torrent of water that has flooded the area? No. You plug the leak. I believe a the right mindset to have in our circumstance is that the skeletons are the water, and the demon and the necromancers are the breach in the dam. We must plug the hole from which the countless hordes pour into our world.

However, things are still not so clear-cut. We have far more questions than answers. Our demon, whose name we do not know, was summoned by a man named Aaron. Aaron was a town guardsman from Wintervale who secretly dabbled in necromancy. The ritual he performed had summoned the demon at the cost of his own life. Only the most driven fanatic would do such a thing. What could’ve pushed Aaron so? I believe if we knew that we could prevent this from happening again.

In addition, we have seen no direct evidence that the demon leads the undead hordes. Aaron certainly could summon them, but he is dead now, and we have not seen the demon since our near-fatal encounter in the ritual chamber. For now we can only assume that they are related.

At Valley Falls we have seen more evidence of necromancy, so we know that Aaron is not the only one contributing to this disaster. Someone had raided the graveyard at Valley Falls, and managed to summon a large skeleton army outside its very gates. Was it a single individual or a cadre of practitioners that was able to do this? Were these people a separate entity from our demon and his army? Or might they all be part of the same movement, participating in some great day of reckoning orchestrated by a death god? The necromancer(s) dumped their expended corpses into the river so that they would float right into the town. By this brazen act I deem that they want to be found. Our enemy dares us to come at him. Challenge accepted.

But before we leave, I must remember to speak with Elastris again, the resident arcanist of Valley Falls. We must exhaust every question with her. The rituals in the Book of Necromancy, are they tied to a specific god? Is there religious significance to what is happening? Might the demon have a purpose beyond merely inflicting destruction and chaos? Does he act on someone else’s behalf? Is there a larger goal we are missing?

Questions seem to pile on by the hour, and I am growing uncomfortable with how little we know. If we come across a necromancer, we simply must capture them and question them on what is happening. I’m sure they would delight in telling us how doomed we are, and exactly how they doomed us and what their end goal is.

But I must get some rest, while there is still the chance. We head eastward at the next opportunity, into the maw of a beast we do not yet understand. How foolhardy it seems! But if not us, then who? Til next time, journal.

- Thaon

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Synopsis
(Thaon explains the story so far)

Two days ago we received a missive from the Talons for a new mission. We were told to go north, to investigate a possible goblin infestation in the vicinity of Wintervale. What we had assumed to be a routine “clean-out” mission has turned out to be a life-and-limb struggle against a terribly powerful foe that none of us could’ve predicted. A great demon has been summoned, and the undead pour forth in waves. Our greatest lament is that we know no more than that. But we are on a path to the find out, and snuff out this transgression into our realm. Allow me to tell you what has befallen, and what now stands before us.

The town of Wintervale had reported a surge in attacks from goblins, and the Talons had tasked us to investigate the issue and put it to rest. Upon gathering information from the people of the town, we learned that the disturbance coincided with the disappearance of a young man named Jasper. A guardsman named Aaron, who was a good friend of Jasper, had gone off into the wilderness alone to find him. This being our only lead, we set off westward into the forest to search for the two and see if there was a connection between them and the goblins. We came upon a large mansion where, to our dismay, skeletons were gathering in large numbers. On the outskirts of the property we came across Aaron alone in a clearing. Aaron joined us in the search for his friend, but in the ensuing chaos he disappeared. We entered the mansion and discovered a trapdoor leading to an underground system of caverns. There we found an elaborate ritual room with demonic symbology etched on every surface. Here we again met Aaron, who we learned was in fact a practitioner of dark magic and necromancy, and in that chamber he wished to kill us. He summoned several skeletons and a battle ensued, where Aaron used a blade that had been bloodied to initiate a ritual where he sacrificed himself in order to summon forth a massive demon. We were near death, and the demon laughed at our weakness and vanished, supposedly teleporting to another place. Barely clinging to life, we slowly made our way back to town, and upon returning we saw that an army of skeletons were about to descend on Wintervale. We organized the defenses of the town to prepare it for invasion, and were able to stave off the attack for a while. However we wouldn’t have made it through the night were it not for mounted reinforcements sent from Esterlin. The town was now safe for a time, and upon searching Aaron’s personal belongings at the barracks we discovered a large chest full of scrolls, tomes and indecipherable arcane writings. Of special interest was a large tome on Necromancy, which was one of the few items written in the Common script. A master of the dark arts was a member of the town guard! Bewildering.

We took a horse-drawn cart northward, where we wished to meet up with the Talon operatives in either in Korsa in Esterlin. The forest on the way to Korsa had since become infested with undead, so we took the road towards Esterlin, and spent a night in Valley Falls, where the plot thickened. We questioned a local expert in the arcane, and from the Book of Necromancy we learned to our great displeasure that there is no way to banish the demon back to his realm. Furthermore, since we discovered so painfully that he is very powerful in combat, we have placed little hope in slaying him outright. But by tricking the demon, we may be able to trap it using a magical or physical prison. We were unable to learn how the demon was related to the skeletons, but we must only assume that it commands them.

That night, right as a heavenly roast goat leg approached my mouth to be devoured and washed down with a cold malty ale, I was abruptly shaken out of the absurd fantasy that I somehow deserve any respite after two days of horrible, soul-shaking battle. There was a commotion near the river, and since the past few “commotions” we had experienced had ended up getting terribly out of hand (just terrible, awful situations), we were not in a positive mindset as we rushed out to see what the “commotion” was. Five dismembered bodies had been seen floating down the river next to the town. And so it goes.

The townsfolk began retrieving them to see who the unlucky souls were. We saw evidence of graft work on the skin of the corpses, and found that one of the bodies belonged to a man who was known to be dead and buried weeks earlier in the the town’s graveyard. Necromancers, by all signs. There must be more like our friend Aaron. And since the bodies came from upriver, the perpetrators must be dwelling in or around the eastern mountains. In addition, when we had spoke with Langdon, the captain of the Town Guard, he told us of reports of skeletons emerging from those same mountains. There must certainly be some sort of stronghold there.

Our guide Whitley and his party have continued on to Esterlin, where that city’s Talon chapter will be informed of our plight. Indeed our plight has become the plight of the entire region, for now all the land is enmeshed in this battle. Once the Talons are briefed by Whitley, they may give us further instructions while we are afield. We should keep our eyes skyward for carrier pigeons.

The next morning, right as we left the inn and walked into the crisp morning air, and felt the low-lying sun on our faces, and heard the gentle cooing of morning doves, we were abruptly shaken out of the absurd fantasy that we somehow deserved to have a single peaceful moment, just one nice moment, while locked in a war with the underworld. Overnight there had been a disturbance in the graveyard, and upon investigating, hordes of skeletons began to dig their way out of the ground and attack anything living. We fought well, but they were simply too numerous. The Town Guard orchestrated a retreat back behind the walls of the town, but we became separated from the Guard by a few hundred angry walking corpses. For a moment we believed we’d be overrun, but thanks to a few extremely useful potions we were able to become invisible to the mindless creatures, and run right past them and through the gates. The town of Valley Falls had a special exploding projectile that they used in their catapults, packed with a particularly incendiary mixture that they called “Valley Fires”. The valley was on fire that night, and air stunk of burning bones.

Our mission takes us eastward towards the mountains. We know of an ancient tower that sits where the river and mountains meet, assumed by townsfolk to have been uninhabited for hundreds of years. We will test that theory, for the town’s historian has told us that it had once been occupied by an archmage. That will be our first destination on this final desperate trek into the eye of the storm.

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