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Something's been bothering me. I pull the boat up to a shore and Pope and I take our hostage out with us, walking for the last fifteen minutes to my car. As we drive back to the Johnson, I wonder about recent events. Delphi, who I haven't seen directly, sets nine people up to see some sorry ass Johnson and his take his gigs. I don't mind getting the money, but still. Why us nine? These people are the strangest I've seen in a while, and though I'll do what the money tells me to do, I hate working with people unless it's necessary. I mean, I spirit? A pixie? I feel like I'm in a circus. No wonder I've been drinking more often. After they deal with the Johnson, I go back to the bar and get a few hard drinks in me. More than I normally do after a run.

Smoke lingers around me as I look over the people in the bar. There's a guy hitting on a girl, but I can tell he slipped something into her drink. Rapists. They are easy to spot. But I keep on drinking my drink and smoking. I could stop him, just a quick shot to his kneecap and he wouldn't pull that shit again. I know his kind, cowardly assholes who think the world of themselves until they take one in the knee. Then they don't think at all, they just piss themselves when the person strong enough to show them what to do walks past. But I don't stop him. If I did, it would mean I'd do something for free. And I need my persona. It's the only thing keeping me going, maintaining this mercenary appearance of mine. It means people get hurt from my actions, from my inactions. I don't care. Maybe I can't care if I want to keep shadowrunning. Maybe I just need another fuckin drink.

Kneecaps. He's been bothering me. Fineas. The guy who wrecked my car doesn't matter to me, but Fineas' name does. What's he up to and why is my name on his plans. Should've killed the bastard when I had the chance. But I didn't because I don't kill for free. Learned my lesson there. Time to look up Fineas and what he's been doing. Maybe I can finish my one free job if I find him. Until then, I guess I'll just keep running with these weirdos. If so, we'll need someone to organize us. A leader I suppose. Leaders. They aren't people like me. They don't turn their backs on terrible things and drink their problems away. I'm just a gunfighter. Who's tired. I walk past the couple as I leave, she's out cold and he has a filthy fuckin' grin on his face. I look at him, wish I could do something. I walk out the door.
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I would like to apologize about my previous post. I was not in the right state of mind if you will. Apologies though mean nothing for actions speak louder than words. I deal with that realization each day and my addiction to the mescaline is both a godsend and a burden for the actions I've done in the past. As mush as I do not want to dwell back into the past, I do feel it is a time we go back to remember and learn. The past run was an interesting one for myself and I'm sure for the others involved. I will not deny the fact I was riding the "mystic river" that day and what I remember most definitely blends what was and what was not there.

The Johnson was not the usual Johnsons I've encountered; he looked down on his luck and slightly agitated. To contrast I was feeling pretty confident and euphoric, and looking back now I feel like an asshole, but that's how life goes. Right now I feel like shit and perhaps the Johnson might actually be feeling better. Funny how life treats you... karma might be the right idea for this pain I feel. The job was simple: Go to the docks and destroy a particular shipment by any means. The payoff certainly seemed appropriate and the team assembled looked to be a good crowd (at this point I'm not sure if it was me or the mescaline); I think I saw a bigfoot but I'm not sure if that was real or a hallucination... same with the pixie.

I gave the Bigfoot a ride and my friend Carl the Mantis rode shotgun. I know now Carl was a hallucination but he seems to be a reoccurring hallucination and my or may not be a sign from my subconscious. We reached the destination and I took to the roof top of a near by building that overlooked the docks. Perfect for my sniping skills. I was surprised at how much trust the team gave me; surely they knew my mind was not fully there and I could have easily taken anyone of them out. The difference though is a sniper takes his time; any other gun requires almost no thought and no reaction time when facing enemies, or civilians, face to face. All I remember was taking out a void of stars, a tree, a kid, and my greatest enemy: myself. When I saw myself in that guard tower I knew that person was not me. My mind was testing me. Was I ready to face myself? I pulled the trigger and upon the hit I realized the truth. I was not ready. I was not ready to deal with myself. I froze. Time stood still. My mind was going a mile a minute but the minute took its damn time. Next thing I know or should I say remember, was driving down the road with the bigfoot and Carl to meet the Johnson at a school. There was traffic but I do not recall details... all I remember was euphoria and being naive.

Here I am now, piecing it all together. I woke up to a horrible smell in the back of my Rover. I'm not sure what happened there, but if that bigfoot was real, I'll blame him. All I can do now is drive around town to take my mind off things. Hoping perhaps the Johnson may contact me again. Doing these jobs keep my mind off the past and gives me something to look forward to. If the past is like anything, then it is like the shit in my Rover: the smell lingers and reminds you of what happened.

Now to try and forget the mescaline in my glove compartment...

Maybe just a little...
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Epilogue: End of Book One
Shortly following the defeat of Rathamon and the retaking of Sanctuary, all soldiers gathered around the fallen temple. Huntmaster Gaelen gave a somber eulogy, and strongly suggested that the Lightbringers and Eastwatch combine their resources to help win this war.

Prince Kafen, so dubbed the "Wildcat" by Garr, had few encouraging words. He was solemn in his promise to work for the people of Sanctuary, however.

Days and weeks pass. The cold bite of winter gave way to the early breeze of spring. A major battle was won, but the main Beysibian force still occupied the midlands. Titus proposed negotiations with the Yssge and made plans to take a ship to the north. Prince Kafen will also journey with them until reaching Ranke. He intends to speak with his brother, Aladar. Hopefully he can get through to the emperor.

Where does that leave the heroes of our story? Titus still feels guilty for the loss of Reylos, though he understands the sacrifice made and commisioned a memorial built. Garr is changed in every way. The once loud and reckless warrior has become somber and stoic, yet not from a guilt or emotion; but from a quiet fire brewing inside. This barbarian has not yet begun to roar. None really understand what goes through the mind of Balthasar. He overcame the curse of the Xiphoid, but what damage was already done? Gaelen spent much of the time in talks with both Bromm & Lord Stillwater on how to best implement a union of the two organizations. He requested Bromm take charge of the Eastwatch until his return from Yssgelund.

As the cherry blossoms bloomed, the heroes made preparations for their journey. For some, this will be the furthest they have ever traveled. For others, this will be a homecoming. For the people of Ranke, it may well be the deciding factor in their future...
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New Contract
C:] Accepting Contract.
Locate and Capture "Bael"/Possible Alias used "Bach"/Possible Known Contacts "Red Dragons"/Target information [Height 7 .5 Feet Tall] [Eyes Blue][Race Unknown][Armed And Dangerous]

C:]Last Known Whereabouts
Moose Jaw
Hong Kong

C:]Searching Seattle Library Archives/Moose Jaw
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Chapter XIV: Into the Mouth of the Serpent
With their wounds binded and focus shifted, the party prepared for the confrontation with the Dread Reaper of Zehir, Rathamon. Prince Kafen and Lord Stillwater were readying the march on the keep. Though the intensity was riveting, few believed the day would belong to Sanctuary.

As the army moved on, the warriors said their goodbyes. Reylos, believing he would not return, asked Titus to relay a message of love and appology. Titus would hear none of it; he intended to get everyone out alive.

Accompanied by A small platoon of Titus' men, they marched on to the temple district. What they saw shook even the strongest to the core. A mass of yuan-ti snakemen awated between them and Rathamon. The soldiers formed a wedge and began their charge. Like a sea crashing upon rocks, the snakemen were thrown backward from the advance of the men. Garr smashed a path while Reylos bathed the snakes in holy-light. Titus barked orders and Gaelen kept their flanks clear. Balthasar fought back his urge to use the Xiphoid and moved through the shadows, clearing out would-be assassins.

Reaching the steps of the temple, they needed a clear entrance. Garr & Balthasar teamed up to topple the massive statue of Pelor, not only squashing many yuan-ti, but also providing a bridge and entryway.

The party entered the temple through broken walls. Once inside, they made their way to the center. The gate was fully open, melding Zehir's realm with their own. The primal energy infused the temple, filling each with an inner rage. Rathamon was spotted speaking with three creatures that could only be described as abominations. Large snake-men with wedge-shaped heads!

Gaelen was the first to strike, firing a volley at one of the abominations. Then the malison archers appeared launching poisoned arrows at the party.

Rathamon smiled, "I must congratulate you. I assumed you all dead, yet here you are, where last we met. Once again, I ask, who shall kneel first?" Drawing his obsidian fullblade, he ordered the abominations to attack.

The battle was not for glory, fame, or fortune. This battle was for revenge and for their lives. Rathamon's will over his minions was frightening. They would not fall from blows that would kill even the mightiest beasts.

Bloodied, wounded, and lacking morale, the heroes pressed on. If any truly believed they would survive, none showed it on their face. Eventually, Rathamon stood alone, though he fared better than any of the heroes. Time was running out. Even Titus, the most optimistic was in despair.

It was then that Reylos realized his fate. He looked up at the portal and knew it had to be closed. Using his last reserves, he lept into the gate! The rest of the party realized they needed to buy him time and assaulted Rathamon with everything they had. Drawing upon inner reserves, he began to bind the portal. His armor was glowing more brightly than ever though his flesh appeared to burn. In a flash of brilliant light, Tempus' spirit appeared in front of Reylos. "Do you realize your fate?" Reylos nodded, "I do."

Tempus decended to the floor, grasping Rathamon around the throat. "You will not leave this place." Turning to the heroes, he ordered them to leave.

The temple was crumbling under the pressure of the portal. Garr, still feeling the primal energy, forced a path through and created an exit with the party in tow. Outside, the entire temple district was a sea of rock and stone. Garr reached into himself, calling on Bastigen once more. He lept into the air bringing the full force of his hammer down upon the ground. The street split as one would part the sea, provding a clean exit to the city. Each ran with everything they had, while remaining yuan-ti were engulfed in the sea.

All would escape, save Garr. When the rocks settled down, the party rushed back in seeking any sign of their companions. A rumble came up from the ground. Garr clambored out of the rubble, though he was different. He looked reborn from the womb. Taller, stronger, and more primal than ever. He now carried the quiet strength of the earth.

They were not so lucky in finding Reylos, however, Combing the super-heated wreckage, they found nothing but rubble.

Next - Epilogue.
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