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Captain's Log: Date - Wilte, 6th Febre, 2407
  Tomorrow is the voyage to this new land, and the first day with my new ship. It seems fine on initial inspection, the places i could check at least, but my cabin will require some remodeling. I wish they had built it for me so there wasn't so much clutter, but alas, I had to be a last minute addition. I just wish my predecessor didn't have such expensive tastes.
  I worry about the voyage ahead. I can't tell if it was my last minute addition, or something more, but I don't like how they seem to have left off parts of my orders. All i know is that we are to fly to the continent, and colonize. Nothing more.
  I also worry about the addition of the Black Hand guild hired to assist my men on this voyage. It's as if they expect more than what a small army of armed guards can handle. And my lack of access to the bowls of the ship is suspicious. But I guess it is too late now. Nothing to do, but do everything in my power to keep my passengers safe.
     -Captain Jeremiah Killington
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Entry #1 : The Party and the Potions Mistress
Day 01, Year 831;

Fate has brought me to the company of uncanny folks; adept but uncanny. The team that I have been working with for some time are quite diverse in both race, class and expertise. It is more than enough to say that our differences in the aforementioned classifiers definitely come with different ideals, beliefs and objectives.

The small one, Ducky, is perky. I do not remember if she mentioned her full name when she introduced herself and if she did, I must have forgotten but her pet name suites her quite well. She’s very boisterous for a paladin. You would think that a person of such class would collect him or herself in a manner that is noble and of divine elegance but she does not exude that at all especially when she punched me while we were in the dingy kobold’s lair. The little one makes me think that she’s on an adventure for two reasons 1. For the sake of it and 2. To learn more about the world. Her going out of her bubble was a big mistake and I hope she notices it when it’s too late.

It amuses me how the world is slowly corrupting her “sense of self and justice” so to speak. Surely, the world will twist and break her like anyone, who is birthed to this realm, experiences. One would expect that someone would care but that someone is not me.

On the other side of the spectrum is of unholy appearance. He goes by the name Barakas Obamas and almost refers to himself in the 3rd person but let's just call him Barakas. It is of utmost importance that power does not fall in his hands which is regrettable since he has obtained a drake which he calls his son and is responsive to the name, “Jerod”. I have seen a lot of daft sentient creatures in my lifetime but this “thing” is no more than a beast in his conduct. One evening when we were running and hiding away from our pursuers, we failed in avoiding combat and had to fight due to my own bad luck. Instead of grabbing and using his weapon, he opted to throw a pebble which did not do much. Luckily, we were able to defeat them and the members of the team were unharmed.

If this is the kind of able-bodied beings that are being drafted, I cannot say much as to how the army will be victorious against the monsters that we are facing. It will take a miracle to win such a war and I’m pretty sure that you, gods of the realm, are enjoying your little game of thrones - throwing your set of dice around, devilishly enjoying this realm’s misfortune yet being gracious at the last minute no?

Let us not forget the silent but deadly leader of the pack, Corporal Martell. All men, even in their extreme machismo and bravado, know when to stop being such an unwanted thorn on one’s rose. Yet, I am pretty sure that Des would love and look up to this person. After all, my little brother loves a good tragic hero - a man who is in search of power, who wants to prove himself because he feels inferior but blind to his own superiority complex which ultimately causes his demise. To weave such a story, to be able to direct it and to induce suffering to this man over and over again even after his passing would be amazing.

Have you ever then wondered what it’s like to be this guy where people love him but no one actually likes him? If he were to die due to DEATH’s untimely knocking at his door, it would be appropriate to say that he died in vain

Finally, the most fascinating creature that I have ever come across is this anthropomorphic bird who is somewhat a harbinger of death. To say that he is DEATH would be an insult to the being himself but this bird, Jean Luc Pikaw, comes close. This Pikaw has a fetish for feet, dead feet, that he would happily nibble on. The touch of his black flipper was able to disintegrate a drake to its bare frames and when you look into his beady eyes, they are just like endless pits of pure nothingness. I wonder what would happen if I scoop his eyes out of his skull - will it just be literally pits of nothingness? Ah but if I did, he would not be as interesting anymore since no one would have any windows to look into this creature - we would have no way of knowing what he thinks since he cannot be understood and he will be in complete isolation unless he channels his consciousness to what lies beyond this realm. Of course, that is he ever finds someone like him.

To be honest, what I find more unusual is that I have been conscripted into the army even if I am of abnormal origin. Half-elves are, after all, not exactly of the mortal realm nor are we of what humans would think is beyond the boundary.

The mortal beings must be so desperate to defeat these gigantic serpentine creatures that leave nothing but destruction and demise in their wake when they, themselves, are of destructive nature albeit capable of good deeds. If there is one thing I am most aware of and have taken to heart in my 225 years is that no matter how good a person is, if they have no strong sense of who they are and/or what they stand for, give them a little push, inspire their greed, cloud their judgment and they will certainly do wrong. It’s the same for doing the right thing as well and yet, here we are.

Similar to the case that we are currently handling. Commander General Softpaw has given us a task to escort a potions mistress, Lucinda Alhertin, convicted of dragon-worship. Dragon-worship is considered as treason. Her nephew, Dylan, confessed to the crime yet all testimonies are against the boy being the prime suspect and even if he is, it is uncharacteristic of him. Everyone who knew him thought of him as a sweet boy and thus, the party has been led to believe that he has been controlled or brainwashed to murder his Aunt. Supporting this information is the fact that Jerod smelled a third unidentified smell in the area.

Other pieces of information found were the green orb and the blood in the bowl. Corporal Martell figured out that the murderer was left-handed and that the swing came from above. He also visibly noticed that Lucinda was kneeling while she was struck from behind as the ceremonial dagger was found lodged in her back. It is sufficient to say that either she was in the middle of her worship or that she was forced into that position to stage that she was a dragon worshipper instead of her just simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It is also worthy to note that she has a lot of cuts found on her arm and a fresh wound was found on her decayed body that the blood found on the bowl could be hers but what if it was made to look like that?

A lot of creatures do self-inflicted wounds for sheer pleasure. Her being a potions mistress could mean that she’s been using her blood to make potions that require blood. Also, the halfling mentioned something about the cabinet/table holding the dragon statue. During our first investigation, it passed over our heads that the dust has been newly settled on both the “altar” and where it has been placed as opposed to the other areas of the basement. I cannot get rid of the nagging feeling that maybe, just maybe, the whole town has been under the influenced of the orb and that everyone’s memories have been...altered. Instead of Lucinda being the traitor, she might have been in fact trying to lift the curse since the elf who was posing as a vagrant did mention that she was inquiring about a scroll that could lift the curse.

I am now in possession of the green orb and of the dragon dagger. The team does look at me funny when I nonchalantly cut myself and offer my blood in order to find out the answer to this murder mystery. The vagrant did warn us that this orb is of otherworldly aura and has the power to alter memories and so, I have taken it to myself to write down everything that happens. For as much as I want to forget and just live my life entertaining the masses, I cannot especially my own personal mission. This, however, would be a good story to tell.

I have a lot of hypotheses to this riddle and it has certainly gotten my attention that I have forgotten to look for clues and the whereabouts of my remaining family. Coming from someone who used to be the star of the theatre troupe, you wouldn’t expect such a mind but literature and the humanities do offer insight to the psyche - almost to the point of paranoia.

I’m torn, my dear gods.

On the one hand, I’m still bent on exacting my wrath against those who tore us apart but on the other hand, it has been… fun being with this ragtag group. Who would have thought that it’s possible to find people[I] that you can consider er… a new family? in this wretched world. [/I]

It’s concerning and I hate it. I’m not religious but if you gods are real, someone… anyone, please give me a sign that I’m right.

As above, so below.
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Coming together and the Murder
Mother, Father,

I travelled north as you suggested and have joined with the strangest of folks. Most of them don't like that i'm small, but I'm winning them across slowly but surely. One has a pet drake that we saved when it was an egg, he however treats it as his son. It's quite perplexing and I'm sure the man isn't quite right of mind. Then there is a lady, almost twice my height, can you believe it, so tall!! Anyway she seems a little bit shady although hasn't crossed us yet. Now the next is a really tall man whom definitely didn't like that i was small of stature, and practically laughed when i put on my armour and strapped my sword to my back. We've had a few battles since we met and i think the trust is building - only as far as he can throw me, which actually isn't far with all my gear on but lets hope he gets stronger. Lastly is the strangest of creatures, to be quite honest I'm not sure what he is, but he's proved useful. This one doesn't really like our rations; prefers feet - human, kolbolds and so on, it's rather intriguing.

We are currently trying to solve a murder of a traitorous dragon worshipping lady. By all means i'm glad she's dead, but it seems to not be that simple. Her apprentice has a befuddled brain and does not recall what made him kill her and guilt consumes him for committing the act but not that it needed to be done. I'm tempted to write a letter of recommendation to Father Alstan, I think he'd be an apt addition to the Church.

The war continues to ravage The North and there seems to be betrayers abundant, even within the higher ranks of the military. Of course i can't give you any more details than that incase this letter doesn't make it to you but alas, more to speak about when next we meet.

Your loyal daughter,
Ducky

P.S. The south seems relatively safe for the moment.

P.P.S. Give my hugs to all our little ducks, and I hope the last hatchings went without problems.

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Epic!
The long walk across town
Tyla's stomach felt as though it were filled with snakes. That simple night of meeting with Ricky had quickly spun out of control and now he'd somehow found his way not only back to the Thieves Guild, but in their covert employ.

Cheeks reddening at that simple thought, his pace slowed. Surely his new compatriots across town were still preparing the specifics of their heist, but the less Tyla knew, the better. "Plausible deniability" was his watchword, and a bombastic and generous his appearance at the Hairy Cod would hopefully put some distance between him and the goings-on at the Church of the Eye. If these brothers-in-arms were somewhat still in the dark on their contractor, that was all for the good.

Pausing at the next corner, he surreptitiously checked his coin purse, hoping he had enough goodwill to stretch these rilks into several rounds. Perhaps a gratis performance could balance the scales with Sir Harry...

A quick, silent prayer to the Bakkus, god of mirth and wine, and one to the Lord of Chance for good measure, and he set off again.

Nearing the door to the Cod, Tyla noticed some familiar faces in the square. A smattering of dock workers and some merchant-shippers from the eight cities. Certainly, these talkative sailors could be counted on for boisterous song and matching his generosity. With any luck, the Beggars Guild would have some members nearby, further solidifying Tyla's alibi.

Affixing his most genial smile, Tyla burst through the door. "An ale to the sailor with the most preposterous tale of sea monsters!"
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Epic × 2!
A Conflict of Morality: The Aftermath
A Conflict of Morality: The Aftermath
For: Andulhaven

POV: Alexander

Hands shaking, heart racing, feet unsteady and legs wobbling as he backed away, Alexander stared at her from afar and cast Touch Me Not, the only protection he was able to give himself.

He hated how she made him a coward. How he was even afraid to meet her mismatched gaze, or stand near enough to hear her speak. How he’d fled behind his companions and put them in danger over himself.

She’d already killed Demitre and Ehrindel. She intended to kill them all now, and if Alexander wasn’t careful, he would watch her kill the rest of his friends, too.

Cosmo, who he didn’t always get along with, had still been there for him during the last few torturous days. Tully, who he’d gotten to know better over the course of their journey, had been there since the beginning, and had formed a special kind of bond with Alexander. And Magdala

Magdala

He glanced in her direction, and was surprised to find her already staring back at him. For only a moment she held his gaze, before turning around to face the demoness in the sky. The old animal caretaker made a few movements with her hands.

Before Alexander could begin to interpret what she was doing, a pillar of fire descended upon the Queen of Demons from the sky, striking her before she had the chance to move again.

Dresden’s scream sent a chill down Alexander’s spine and at the same time gave him a twisted sense of satisfaction. He’d begun to suspect it already, but this confirmed his suspicions. She wasn’t in full power here. And better yet, she was already weakened. They had a chance.

Good, he thought. Let’s make her suffer.

He took his first step back toward his captor, regaining a bit of his confidence as soon as his foot hit the ground. Picking up his pace, he strode toward her, a determined gleam in his eyes.

Before Dresden had the chance to recover from the fire that was still smoking on the hems of her clothing, Alexander saw her seize up and suddenly grasp at her throat. She sank from her position in the sky, coming to hover just above the ground. Her mouth opened and closed, but no words came out. Instead, Alexander spotted a thin line of red trickling from one corner of her lips. With a cough, her feet touched the ground, and the rocky floor of the rift was spattered with flecks of red.

Alexander passed Tully, who was concentrating so hard his small body was shaking. Seeing what the boy had done to Dresden, Alexander was simultaneously worried for Tully and grateful to have him on his side.

He pushed his feet to go faster. He could see her better now, he could see the panicked look on her face as she clawed at her throat and struggled to get air past the blood in her lungs. Just before he reached her, a blur of movement passed him on his right. Dresden staggered toward him, bleeding now from a slice in her side, too. Nephith reared her rapier for another blow.

Catching Dresden’s upper arm with his right hand, Alexander dragged her toward him and away from Nephith. He stared down at the demon woman’s face, feeling powerful and confident now that he was taller than her. Gripping her arm tightly, he cooled his hand against her hot skin, watching as the ice struggled to crystalize before melting away.

Her crimson-and-purple eyes glittered with pain, and her expression pleaded with Alexander to save her. She reached out to touch his face with her free hand. He did not move, fixing her with an icy stare. As she made contact with his skin, her hand jerked away, stung by the protective spell on Alexander. A moment later, a burst of blood spewed from her mouth, spattering Alexander’s coat.

Dresden’s body convulsed and she staggered, just in time for Nephith to strike her again with the rapier, this time hitting her just below her ribs.

The Queen of Demons sank to her knees. Alexander held on tighter to her arm and knelt down next to her, never breaking eye-contact with her.

Here she was, the one who had tortured and defiled him, the one who had murdered two of his friends and countless others, the one who had destroyed so many homes, families, lives. Here she was, weak, fearful, nearly defeated. He was so close to her, so close to those shining, terrified eyes that were still begging him to end her suffering.

I will. I’ll end it. I’ll kill you.

With his left hand, he reached into a pocket on the inside of his coat, closing his fingers around the object he was looking for. In a smooth motion, he removed it from his pocket and pressed the muzzle of the pistol he’d bought in Kayton under Dresden’s chin. Still shaking and spitting blood, the Demon Queen’s eyes widened, as if she finally realized just how close to death she was. She clearly hadn’t expected to be brought down so quickly, or at all. Vulnerability grayed her expression, and suddenly she looked like a terrified child, shaken by the thought of death.

Alexander hesitated.

He almost felt as though he should say something to her, and yet he hadn’t said a word. Did she deserve to hear his voice one more time before she died? What would be her last thought? Did he want her to die thinking of him?

Dresden’s hand trembled toward him again, reaching out for his arm. Did she deserve to die quickly? Should he prolong her suffering? Should he kill her at all?

If we keep her alive, we could force her to fix things.

A tiny sound came from her mouth, the closest thing to a word she’d managed since Tully started toying with her blood. Alexander tightened his grip on her arm and leaned in closer. For some reason, a stab of pain struck his chest when he noticed there were tears in her eyes.

Was she regretful? Was she hoping to beg for her life? Was she scared? He shook her slightly, wondering if she’d actually say something.

A sputter of blood heaved its way out of her mouth, dribbling down her chin and onto the top of Alexander’s pistol. In a strained, gurgling voice, she finally managed to get a sentence out.

“If… you kill… me… You’ll… kill… your son…

Alexander pulled the trigger.
~*~

The rest of the battle went by in a blur. Alexander stood stunned as a spiralling portal opened up beneath Dresden’s dead body, only awoken from his stupor after Tully manipulated the blood in his body to drag him back toward the group.

He watched with glazed eyes as a larger demon rose from the portal and scooped up Dresden’s body. It wasn’t until later that he registered the demon had referred to himself as Dresden’s husband.

Alexander hardly remembered anything about their escape from the rift as it began to close around them. They had to crawl down a narrow tunnel, and ride in a stone cylinder to the top of the rift. He remembered rolling in the cylinder down the hill toward Andulhaven, and crashing into the lake.

His thoughts were elsewhere as the rest of the group celebrated with the people of Andulhaven, cheering about the closing of the rift. He stayed in the shadows, watching the party from afar with vacant eyes. He couldn’t stop replaying the battle in his mind. He couldn’t stop seeing Dresden’s eyes.

“Do you want to dance with me?”

Startled by the sudden voice, Alexander stuttered backward, biting back a gasp. A tiny human girl was staring up at him with wide eyes, smiling shyly at him.

Swallowing, he looked away. “I don’t feel like dancing,” he said. Why? Dresden is dead. I should be happy.

Unfazed, the girl shrugged and said, “Then I’ll dance around you!” And with that, she began hopping and spinning in circles around him, giggling as she did so.

I could have had a son.

The thought assaulted him as he watched the girl dance around him.

A half-demon son that I didn’t want.

Alexander clenched his teeth. Why didn’t that fact make his stomach hurt any less? Dresden wouldn’t have wanted him to raise it, anyway. She’d tried to kill him! She had a demon husband! The fact that the child would have had Alexander’s DNA would have made no difference. He would have been raised as a demon, probably would have ended up just as horrible as his mother. So why did he feel so guilty?

“Hey,” he said to the girl, reaching out to grab her by the shoulder so he didn’t run her over as he walked away. “I need to go now.”

“So soon?” Disappointment was clear in her expression. “Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

“Are you feeling any better?”

Worse, actually. “A little bit,” he shrugged.

“Good!” She grinned at him, and then took hold of one of his hands, patting it lightly. “Have a good night!”

Alexander watched as she scampered away to join the party. He glanced down at the blood on his hands.

She’s dead. She’s dead. She’d better stay that way. Still, as Alexander left the party behind and headed back toward the mansion, he watched the shadows carefully, paranoid that she was still watching him.

He wondered if he would get any sleep that night.
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