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My Travels in Purgatory: The Journals of Marius
To my surprise I have received a summons from the Knights Templar, to aid them in the war. Considering the impression I last left the Templar, after the duel with Corgon Glavent, they must be desperate. I have so far avoided heading south due to the time of year and dislike of all theaters of war. Having not seen the events nor the current situation in Hestavar, I cannot yet say which side I will actually support, though truthfully, I would not be put out if by the time I arrived the whole debacle was over.

At the moment I am traveling with a group of breathing fodder. I had hoped that the elf would prove of some meddle, but he is as green as they come. Though he did survive his first encounter, which is far more then I can say for the last elf the traveled along side me. The older Templar...something seems off about him, but frankly, as he does not seem to be overly dangerous, I don't really care. Beyond them the rest seem to be your generic front liners, all too eager and even more inexperienced; with any luck we will reach Havestar without any more incidents like tonight or I will have to fall back on my experience in pier building.

Marius,
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Zombies are bad, mmkay?
Well we certainly had some interesting events last night. The guild sent out some greenhorn after me for reasons I have yet to determine, and he's tugging along this stick of a druid, I still haven't figured out if they are working together. We've decided to let them tag along because I've met useful druids before, however this one isn't shining so far. After we met the new folks one of the evil bandits woke up and tried to play us for fools, but I quickly saw through his clever disguise and we eliminated another threat.

We explored the back of the cave and quickly found out that just because it looks like a rock, sounds like a rock, and acts like a rock doesn't mean it is one. For some reason our druid felt compelled to make up a name for the strange beast while it was impaling our fighter, luckily he was able to mostly shrug off the attack and severed the beast. After that we decided it would be a great idea to explore further, the nagging voices in my head are really hopping there's treasure down here to justify this.

As we scouted below my enemies superhuman sense pierced even my skilled stealth and as I crept around a building our opponents lept out and battle was joined. Things were going reasonably with that old red haired bastard until his reinforcements showed up, two freaky looking magical bastards and a horde of zombies! Honestly I can't tell you much of what went on, I found a break in the line to go after the cleric looking man and I quickly found him and myself locked in a struggle to the death... with 3 zombies helping out his side. I was up, and down, and nearly had him on the ropes after several might blows but he just healed himself again.. god I hate that. Eventually I went down and stayed down until our poor cleric Voras could patch me up after the fight was winding down.

Apparently from what the others told me the zombies where quite a problem, but I think this just stems from their incompetence in combat. Oh well, hopefully we can find a safe place to rest, I can recover my daggers, and then I can begin recovering all my new belongings everyone was carrying.
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Kyla
Posted in The Night Below
Dirty men and zombie hordes, my poor nose
Well, we survived...barely. Where to start?

I was approaching the cave as Oleanne directed me, and as I arrived I encountered a gnomeling named Marten who claimed to also be looking for this same group. As we entered the cave, the sounds of combat were just dying out. It appeared as though the party we besought had just killed a few dirty men. Presumably they were involved with the trouble we were here to take care of. As we were concluding introductions one of them came to and tried to run off, after he told us the rough path to take to find that which we were hunting. I say tried to run off as he was attacked from behind as he tried to move away, and then was killed like rest. All the better it turns out as his untimely return might have proved devastating later.

Eek and Marten seem well entrenched in their racial prejudices; hopefully it will not hamper our success.

After a brief encounter with a piercer, we proceeded to follow the late gentleman's directions through the cave and came upon a well lit chamber with a small wooden shack. This it turned out was a trap. Three men emerged from the shack, and as we were fighting them, a horde of zombies with two casters behind them moved in behind us. Alas I had not prepared my spells with combat in mind, and was only able to give strength to the big fighter before resorting to my trusty scimitar. Even that spell had little effect as the woman caster immobilized him somehow soon after. The fighting was grim and several of us nearly died. It seems I shall have to work on my healing arts for the future.

I did learn a bit more about my new companions from their fighting. The rogue Seped was always out scouting and trying to be sneaky, once combat started he went straight for an old enemy and then split off from the group to harass one of the casters. He seems quite content to opperate alone, but required much healing from the cleric Voras. William seems to be a solid fighter, though he did not display as much knowledge of tactics as I am acustomed to expect from the type. The rogue Marten was often trying to get behind things and keep his head down (relatively easy due to his stature). The pixie fairy Eek is a magic user of some type, and made an astounding amount of noise with an ability that blew up fire lights! This also seemed to make anyone near said fire lights rather unhappy. I attempted to aid him in this tactic, but the efforts of the female caster spoiled the attempts. Ez appears to be a fighter of some type, but I think he spent much of his time trying to get out of combat rather than trying to assist the others, perhaps there is some tension in this group which I have not detected yet. I am not sure what to make of the cleric Voras yet, only that his healing was what let us prevail in the end.

I am still not entirely sure what is going on here, but Oleanne felt I should assist this group, so that is my plan for now. One thing is certain, I am going to need to keep more combat oriented spells prepared than I ever have before. My brother would be so jealous of me. Perhaps I will get around to writing him... oww.. after I can move without hurting that is.
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Caeradwyn's Log: Thirteenth of Mirtul
My journey from Arborlon to the human settlement, Roaming River, was met with no excitement. There is little that interests me in the human's world. Everything is muted and stained with gray; I long for the vibrant colors of dawn across the shores of the moonsea.

I was introduced to some other allies of Nerath on my travel. We were to make for Hestavar together; safety in numbers, I suppose.

Were it not for the lack of strength in their legs and the fortitude of their loins, we would not have rested at the inn; nearly causing the death of me. I have not before encountered an Oni, though I have much knowledge of them. Thankfully, that knowledge proved beneficial in saving my allies. I only wish I could have saved the minstrel; lewd as his music was. Come to think of it, I neither saw, nor heard, any pigs when we arrived at the in...

I have to wonder about these adventurers. The Goliath is, without a doubt, very strong. His resolve, however, is somewhat lacking. The two humans are interesting, as well. I have my suspicions about the templar, but it'll have to wait. Marius, however, seems to have one too many vices. That may prove to be a liability if he cannot keep them in check.

For now, that is all I have to report on. After we bury the dead we will continue toward the fey crossing I have located. It will be a welcome respite from the both dingy and dangerous human trails.
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Gabriel
Posted by the GM
The Dragon Crusades
Chapter 1: The Road to Hestavar
The call had gone out: after their heavy losses at the Battle of the Black Rock, the Knights Templar needed aid. It was a measure of their desperation that Grand Master Oran sent out a copy of his plea to any allies who might conceivably listen. The requested aid included recruits, trainers, healers, or anyone willing to take up arms on behalf of the Templar.

In the small village of Roaming River, a small group of volunteers from across the lands gathered to be taken to Hestavar by a contingent of Templars. They included Marius Ban Vlackburg, an imposing human with dark clothing and a large axe, Caeradwyn, a young eladrin istar from the fey court of Arborlon, the tatooed goliath warden Azak de-Brog, and a man claiming to be Sir Brachion Dendredal, retired Templar Knight. On the day of departure, there were no knights to escort them as planned, instead they found only three travelers headed to Hestavar for their own reasons: the aged historian Aldred, the young village priest Father Earnest, and the minstrel Donovan. Sir Brachion had no luck in determining who was meant to lead the contingent, or why they were several weeks late. Deciding to take matters into his own hands, he started walking down the road to Hestavar, and the others followed with various degrees of enthusiasm, or lack thereof.

Along the path Aldred struck up a lively discussion with Caeradwyn about the history of Arborlon; the eladrin, delighted to finally meet a human who was not totally ignorant, became deeply engrossed. They were interrupted, however, when Donovan became bored and began signing a lewd song, accompanied by his lute and Azak's less-than-skillful but enthusiastic chorus and foot-stompings. This was enough for Caeradwyn to start plotting a way to leave the minstrel behind. Marius and Sir Brachion were both silent through all this as they led the way, contemplating their own thoughts.

By late afternoon the road left the hilly countryside and entered a small forest. Caeradwyn, dismayed at the thought of the weeks the journey was to take, offered to lead the travelers to a fey crossing he belieived to be at the heart of the forest. Azak had a difficult time understanding such a strange concept, but they all agreed to follow the eladrin. Before long they came upon a little-used path that branched off the road deeper into the woods. Father Earnest and Aldred were both visibly flagging by this point; Aldred swallowed his pride and accepted a piggy-back ride from Azak, and Earnest grimly pressed on after the rest of the group.

As it began to grow dark, the travelers were all getting weary, and were heartened to see fire light coming from the windows of an inn not far along the path. Perhaps if they had been less tired they would have been more suspicious of an occupied inn so far off the main road. They were greeted at the door by an old man who introduced himself as Willem. Helping him to run the inn were his two lovely daughters, Susan and Catharine. They were delighted to have customers, explaining that not many travelled that path in these days, and offered to slaughter one of their pigs to feed the guests. Susan caught the eye of Marius, who rarely spent his nights alone. Donovan, with a similar goal in mind, followed Catharine, slyly offering to help her prepare dinner.

Before long Willem returned with the evening meal, ham garnished with vegetables from their garden. Caeradwyn took a plate with only vegetables, while Azak dug into the ham with gusto. Sir Brachion began a conversation with Susan, trying to glean some information and perhaps regretting his vow of celibacy, but was quickly cut off when Marius approached and Susan offered to have a "private conversation" with him in one of the upstairs rooms. Caeradwyn was surprised to see such an affront to Willem's hospitality, but Willem himself didn't seem particularly bothered behind the inn's bar.

As they entered the room, Marius moved to the bed and began to take off his leather armor. Susan, approached, embraced him, then enlarged her mouth and bit him fiercly on the shoulder! Her clothing shredded as her body enlarged, here skin turned red, and horns grew out of her head. Marius was more disappointed than shocked at this turn of events, despite the pain in his shoulder making it hard for him to concentrate. He pushed the creature away from himself, then grabbed his axe and clouted her on the head with it. She let out an inhuman screech at the blow.

In the common room below, everyone was startled at the noise. Willem let out a grunt, then began to grow in size, as his skin turned purple and horns grew out of his head as well. "An oni!" Aldred breathed as he and Father Earnest backed into a corner. Caeradwyn managed to seize the initative and drew his blade, warning the oni to let them leave if it valued its life. The oni sneered back: "You are hardly worth the eating, but that one would make a fine meal," nodding to Azak. The eladrin responded by uttering an arcane word, and sending a blast of magical force into the creature, slamming him into the wall behind the bar. Sir Brachion swiftly followed suit, nimbly leaping over the tables and chairs onto the bar's counter with surprising speed for one his age, and slashed with his long sword. The slash proved to be merely a feint, however, and the knight's true attack came from a glowing green dagger he pulled from under his tabard with his other hand, stabbing the oni in the arm.

Not to be outdone, or eaten for that matter, Azak bellowed a challenge and swung true with his warhammer. The oni managed to gather his wits from the onslaught of blows, took a deep breath, and began to breathe out a fine mist that flowed over the ground and filled the room. The mist made the already weary travelers begin to grow sleepy; Aldred and Earnest passed out straight away. Caeradwyn didn't have that luxury; the oni's other "daughter" burst through the door of the inn, claws and teeth already bloody, and began to attack him. It was at this point that they realized that Donovan had never returned from his rendezvous.

Meanwhile, in the upstairs room, Marius and "Susan" continued to struggle; eventually Susan fled down the stairs in fear of the warrior, only to be followed and struck down by Marius' fierce charge. Marius surveyed the carnage in the common room: Caeradwyn maneuvering for position, Sir Brachion taking a viscious beating from a wooden plank the large oni had torn form the bar, and Azak weakly lashing out with a magically produced vine before subcumbing to the mist's effects and falling into a deep slumber.

Things were not looking well for the group. Suddenly, Sir Brachion's appeared to be turning into an oni as well! This was only another ruse on his part, however; he quickly reverted to his knightly form and drove his knife towards the surprised oni's throat, scoring a deep gash. "What are you?!" the oni bellowed, and struck the knight in the head with his plank, knocking him unconscious. Caeradwyn, taking advantage of the momentary confusion, teleported outside of the inn, and began to hammer both remaining onis with magical force and silvered fire. Azak managed to shake off the effects of the soporific mist, and produced a field of ice that froze both onis in place.

The oni who had called herself "Catharine" quickly fell under this onslaught. "Willem" was made of sterner stuff, but even he could not stand for long against these warriors. He began to transform into a mist similar to that he had breathed earlier, hoping to escape, but Azak was not willing to let the oni escape from his icy snare. He struck the creature square in the head with his warhammer before it could fully dissolve into mist, ending its life.

Father Earnest finally managed to awaken, and quickly rushed to Sir Brachion's side, using his healing skills to revive him. The others noticed a trap door in the floor of the room; they cautiously opened it and Caeradwyn prodcued a magical light, revealing a dug-out cellar filled with the bones and belongings of the onis' previous victims. They decided to leave everything until the morning, and went upstairs to finally sleep in peace. By silent consent Marius was given the now-blood-soaked room he had fought in; he was merely content to have some privacy.
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