The March of Ages

Daddy Issues

As Serafina Anduril bounded back toward Kunik with something on her mind, Stangil Drakebane and Sani Nodin kept pace while carrying the unconscious Maloran Argent.

Once inside the city walls, Maloran, too wounded to walk on his own, was left at the arena. Serafina barely stopped for Stangil to let him down. They marched past the festivities and the new statue up to High Lord Diedik’s hall. Startled guards did not attempt to impede them.

Without breaking stride in the hall, Serafina located Grand Marshall Turk and bee-lined for him. She stopped two feet away from his face and held the Cragga heart in front of his beady eyes. She began to use her power to burn Turk from the inside. As he screamed, she spoke to the quieted guests in the grand hall. Sani translated:

For weeks we have observed every measure of your customs. One of us paid a great price for insulting your leader. We have apologized and made amends. No longer will humans be treated as inferior. Let all who witness this understand the consequences of betraying us or High Lord Diedik.

Before she was done speaking, the Grand Marshall was dead. Silence hung heavily. Stangil approached the High Lord and addressed him. He was apologetic, yet stern in explaining what had happened in the mountain pass and that it was Turk who had orchestrated the ambush. The High Lord motioned to speak with the humans privately.

High Lord Diedik was pleased to know that Turk’s treachery had been squashed, but warned that he had devoted followers. Abigor showed them a secret passage out of the hall and they took to the keep.

Stangil sealed the doors and the three climbed over the outer wall and onto the barracks. From the highest floor they assassinated the other marshals and worked their way down, leaving the women, low-ranking officers, and foot soldiers alive. Stangil made sure to warn a lieutenant about the necessity of loyalty.

Returning from their coup, they spoke with Diedik one last time. He seemed concerned about losing his invitation to the council, which Serafina assured him he would not. On their way out of Kunik for the second and hopefully, final, time they saw over a dozen Cragga on display near the statue. Other conspirators, a warning to others.


Weeks later, the three humans had finally made it to the Great Heart Tree. Along the way Serafina had seen poggles and learned as much Lluaran words and customs from Sani as she could. The homecoming, however, was not what Sani had expected. A wall of 20 foot trees had been grown around the area near the tree and scorch marks dotted the trees and ground. Hundreds of new trees were growing around them.

Once they could see the Great Heart Tree up close, they saw a sigil of Ouroboros burnt into the side. Serafina could sense it drawing power from the tree and all three humans could feel its invitation emanating.

Adlei Rhiggs met with them and greeted Sani as a brother. He explained that two days ago a devastating attack of ghosts came in force, created confusion, and at some point, the symbol appeared. Elders were targeted and all but one were now dead.

He showed them to Elder Ancient Thyiss, who shared a great secret about the tree. The symbol of Oroboros that was placed on it was ancient magic and Thyiss did not know how to remove it.

The attacks had been coming from the west, so the three humans agreed to set out in that direction the next morning. Sani and Adlei shared a drink and caught up. Later, Adlei ran into Serafina and they spoke. Meanwhile, Stangil’s curiosity got the better of him and he reached out to touch the symbol.

Stangil was transported to a world that seemed to be the world during the time before. The land was a desert with two moons and a red swirling sky. In front of Stangil stood a magnificent red and violet dragon, Oroboros. They spoke at length and (in typical dragon fashion) Stangil felt frustrated that he did not receive many answers to his questions. He did, however, receive a promise that he would see his son within a week’s time.

As quickly as he appeared, he disappeared and found himself again in front of the Great Heart Tree. Stangil found Serafina and told her what had transpired. Not one to let Stangil have all of the crazy fun, she went to touch the symbol herself.

Serafina’s conversation with Oroboros was different. She got under his armor with her indifference toward the dragons, their power, and their games. He offered to remove her mark and sever her servitude to Somnambuliss for a price. When asked the price, he said she would have to murder a stranger when he asked her to. She declined the offer. When pushed, he told her it was Atterick, the Unkillable, the Cragga King. She declined. Serafina questioned the dragon with impertinence and frustrated, he promised that she would speak to him again, within one week. Then, she was returned to her own time.

Both proud of herself and terrified, Serafina sought out Adlei to take him up on a drink he had offered her earlier. They got to know each other a little better and she admitted to him that she was surprised, he was not what she had expected, and she did not get along with his wife during their travels together.

That night in their sleep, Serafina and Stangil spoke with Somnambuliss. He explained that the symbol called to Goraurik. They could mask the call by painting his own mark over it with their blood. To disconnect the call, they would have to kill the source. He then told Stangil that tough times were ahead. Somnambuliss said something about a visitor and they awoke with a start.

Neither could see a thing but Serafina sensed Cernunnos. It took all of her not to kill him as earlier she made a bet with Adlei about which of them would. He had come for their help and to offer a trade. In return for tracking the ghosts for them to Oroboros’s lair, he requested that they assist him in removing Goraurik’s shell. It had gone insane over time and even Cernunnos (nutbag that he was) knew that his master’s husk needed to be disposed of.

Stangil was ready to leave with Cernunnos that moment but Serafina insisted on waking up Sani and Adlei. It took some convincing to ensure Adlei would not attack Cernunnos and that despite her own vendetta, they needed him for these tasks. Serafina promised Adlei that when it was all over, she would let him kill Cernunnos.

While tracking the ghosts, Cernunnos expressed his happiness that Serafina did not die from his attack when they last saw each other. She furiously showed him the mark that was the result of his wound, to which he held up his dagger and offered to get rid of it for her. Strangely, Adlei had made the same offer earlier.

A few hours into the hunt, they came across a fissure in the ground where they saw the ghosts and a cave. The ghosts were Divoth, like Reikasha. The devoted. A human figure stood among them. It was Rondal.

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Mind Your Manners

The celebration of the gladiatorial fight that Stangil Drakebane, Serafina Anduril, Sani Nodin, and Maloran Argent won was held in the hall of High Lord Diedik with around 200 Cragga in attendance. Aside from Abigor, they were the only humans and Serafina was the only woman.

Many of the Cragga gave gifts to the humans and offered to purchase them. The highest offer came from Grand Marshall Turk, who invited them to dinner the following evening. Some even offered to buy a child if one of the male humans were to breed with Serafina.

At the arrival of High Lord Diedik, Maloran refused several times to bend the knee. He finally acquiesced, at Stangil’s insistence. It was considered a huge show of disrespect to the Cragga and the High Lord. When the High Lord moved past the incident, the party resumed.

Serafina attempted to learn the dance, despite being unaware that it was not custom for women to dance and how terrible she was at it.

High Lord Diedik spoke with the humans. It came out that he was at odds with Atterick. The humans told him about the council and discussed representation.

The evening continued pleasantly until Maloran drunkenly tripped over a slave and Serafina tackled him to the ground before he could fall on a table. The scene disrupted the party and the hall fell silent. Stangil grabbed Maloran up and apologized publicly to High Lord Diedik. He then beat the heavily intoxicated Maloran unconscious. Diedik said the three of them could leave. They walked out, leaving Maloran.

The next morning Maloran awoke vomiting on himself, chained upside down. The others met with Diedik, determined not to leave the city without one of the humans. After some talk, as this was an egregious affront that would normally result in death, Diedik’s demands were threefold:

- Stangil would construct a statue for the city
- Maloran would apologize publicly
- Maloran would take ten lashes as penance

They took this to Maloran and Stangil made it clear that the other two options were slavery and death. Maloran agreed. The apology was set at noon that day.

A crowd gathered to watch Maloran apologize, which Sani translated. High Lord Diedik looked appeased (Stangil and Serafina noticed an odd expression on Grand Marshall Turk’s face) and the penance commenced.

The lashing was brutal and Serafina saw to healing Maloran as soon as he was released.

Over the next two weeks, Stangil constructed the statue. It turned out to be a 100 foot tall statue of Kunik, himself, High Lord Diedik’s grandfather. During that time Grand Marshall Turk came to visit. He told the humans that if they bent the knee and helped him overthrow the “unpopular” High Lord, he would let them leave the city safely. They refused and Stangil warned Abigor.

On the day of the unveiling of the statue, the humans stayed through the dedication but thought it best not to remain for the celebration. They said their goodbyes to Abigor, whom Stangil had attempted to convince to come with them. He had also procured a gift for Sani, four mugs and a pitcher like those in the hall of the High Lord.

About two hours outside of the city, they saw an ambush. 40 Cragga were poised to eliminate the humans on their way out. Stangil and Sani snuck up on either side of the cliff to take care of the archers with the help of Naiora while Serafina remained on the ground with Maloran, who was largely unable to defend himself.

After seeing Naiora hit with multiple arrows and the others injured, Serafina ramped up the carnage and waves of fire wiped out several dozen Cragga in minutes. Maloran, Sani, and Naiora were patched up. Then, Serafina ripped the heart out of the leader and stormed back toward Kunik with something on her mind.

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Other Peoples' Business

As the humans re-oriented themselves, Ky’Lea, the leader of the dozen Lluaran, explained that the Cragga were specifically destroying Heart Trees. The Lluaran were having difficulty fighting them off because Cragga can see through their natural camouflage.

They walked a day north so Stangil Drakebane, Serafina Anduril, Sani Nodin, and Maloran Argent could speak with the Cragga, in the hopes of solving this conflict diplomatically. They learned that the Cragga had an outpost headed up by Lord Varrikin.

The Cragga treated the humans strangely, with disdain even. Before the meeting with Lord Varrikin, Serafina was given clothing to cover herself, following the custom for women in the Cragga culture. At the meeting they learned that someone named Abigor who lived in the city of Kunik had a contract out for the Heart Trees. Unless that contract was pulled, Lord Varrikin would not call his men in. Kunik was another two days north.

It was decided among the four humans that they would spare the time to go to Kunik and meet with this Abigor. As it turned out, Kunik was a rather large Cragga city deep in the mountains. They were directed toward a giant gladiatorial colosseum that was being constructed out of primal materials. It was a grand and gaudy tribute to death.

Abigor, it turned out, was a human that Stangil and Serafina recognized from their younger days. Abigor used to be Tamarin. It had been twenty-five years since Stangil had last seen him and he was believed to be dead. Tamarin, Abigor, had been living and fighting here as an enslaved gladiator.

After some discussion about pulling the contract, Abigor agreed under one condition: the four humans fought in the arena. If they all agreed to fight (without using powers) and lived, he would stop the construction for one year, leaving the Lluaran time to figure out a new strategy. All four agreed.

In the arena they fought 13. Sani lured Cragga into traps. Naiora and Serafina fended off a mounted Cragga. Maloran speared a Lluaran. And Stangil rained destruction. When the last opponent was dead, Serafina lit the dead Feoral on fire and rushed a wall of fire around the edge of the ring to entice the crowd.

Abigor greeted them after they were seen by a healer and cleaned up. He said they were invited to a festival later that night and that he would keep his end of the deal.

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Here We Go

3 Days

Serafina returned to Voltierra early the next morning to find that Belladonna had arrived the night before. Feeling very out of place, she left and wandered around the city before winding up sitting in front of a drink, contemplating. Aleetha found Serafina and convinced her that she belonged. After an afternoon of shopping for chocolate and spices (to make a dinner that would hopefully usher Aleetha into labor), they returned home and Serafina had a talk with Belaric about living with them.

Stangil came home, wearily, to Julian and told him about
Xerus.

The Last Day

Stangil and Julian spent the day on the lake fishing and enjoying quality time together. Sani conducted business, as usual. However, a strange thing occurred that day. Serafina hosted a dinner party. Among the guests were Braeden Brightburn, Sosyth Toth-Iluith, Odoth Illuith, Bruinen, his wives, Sani, Stangil, and Julian.

The dinner was lavish and included every Dolgari dish and dessert that Serafina knew how to cook. Arianna and Laudengaul stopped by to see Stangil. Everyone enjoyed their evening, the food, the company, and a chance to say a proper goodbye.

Stangil, Serafina (with Naiora in tow), Sani, and Maloran all met in Aristos’s tower before midnight for the ritual. As promised, Ithaca was there to help. At the last moment, just before the teleportation, Idara appeared.

A Place -Un-Familiar

Stangil, Serafina, and Sani awoke to a raging battle. Lluaran were fighting wraiths. The Great Heart Tree was on fire with children in it. And Rondal was fighting Trelias. Serafina acted quickly to extinguish the fire on the Great Heart Tree while Sani climbed to save the children. Stangil joined his son against the drake.

The heroes fought back the wraiths and took down Trelias. The dreamscape dissipated. They awoke in the forest, quiet, bound, disarmed.

Lluaran appeared and Sani spoke with them. The others were freed. Maloran lay unconscious. Several weeks west were the ghosts and mysterious fires. One day north was an area under attack by Cragga. And the one the Lluaran call the Mad Shadow, Cernunnos, had returned. The Lluaran were fighting on three fronts and losing ground rapidly.

A decision was made immediately and the were to head north to speak with the Cragga.

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Countdown

6 Days

Serafina

After waking and taking care of Belaric and the girls, Serafina had breakfast with her old flame, Bruinen. He is happily married with two wives (Coryn and Lora) and three children (Seraf, Yurin, and Taimea).

From there she sought out Gauladek to have a talk. Serafina discovered that Gauladek was in Voltierra to serve and guard Kilian Tull, an emmisarry of Desrond Toth. Kilian was to wed Sosyth Toth-Iluith and have the prestige of the Toth family, but her elopement to Odoth Illuith foiled his ambitions. Gauladek also divulged to Serafina that he had noticed Seripathia had the ear of Luke Cythson.

Next, Serafina had lunch with Sosyth and advised her to educate herself on the politics of Voltierra. Then she found Arianna preparing for her trip. Serafina asked her friend several questions and wished Arianna a safe trip. A brief audience with Aristos Dar’Vol was granted and Serafina clarified as much as she could about the mission to the Lluaran forest to the west, the fires, and the “ghosts.” Finally, she reached out to Braeden Brightburn to warn him about Seripathia’s formative attachment to Luke.

Stangil

Stangil Drakebane spent the morning with his love, Julian before heading to his smithy to see how Emily had been keeping the shop. He showed her the new metals he discovered in Drekaran and the projects that he would be working on over the next six days. Stangil also told Emily that the smithy was hers if he did not return. Avar stopped by with the sword Stangil had forged for him, Var Bite, which Stangil healed and made stronger.

Stangil left work early that day at Julian’s request and they spent several hours sparring before having a relaxing evening together.

Sani

Sani Nodin spent the morning watching the parade in honor of the
Drekar and purchasing Drekaran goods, like chocolate. He brought some chocolate to Aluria before heading to his caravan to work. After a long day, he retired to drinks with Aluria.

Dreams

That night, both Stangil and Serafina had a visitor in their dreams. Stangil was told that one never knows who will bear their consequences and when. The things in the forest are old and not foreign to him. Serafina was told to stay close to Stangil and do the right thing.

5 Days

Missives arrived in the morning for all four adventurers to visit Aristos. He explained the ritual that he needed to perform to get them closer to their goal but said that he required the assistance of Ithaca, who had refused. He also needed a sacrifice and suggested a local pack of var. Also, it would require the use of part of each of their essences. Serafina was alarmed by this and demanded further explanation.

They went down to the Moon Village and spoke with Ithaca. She said that had she known the ritual was for Serafina, she would have agreed to do it for nothing. The adventurers asked what she needed anyway and worked out a trade agreement with Sani, bringing him more business.

Stangil spent the rest of the day in the smithy. Maloran Argent had remained to watch him work but was distracted by Emily aggressively hitting on him. Serafina went to Ol’ Coot, an apothecary, to procure heavy tranquilizers for the var. Sani spoke with his trapper, Xangari.

4 Days

Maloran awoke in an unfamiliar bed and when he ventured downstairs, Emily asked, surprised, “you’re still here?!” Sani visited Teth Toluin, the Lluaran trader that was offended by Ithaca and broke their agreement. In order to keep his deal, Sani needed some herbs from Teth.

Braxys visited the smithy and informed Stangil and Serafina of the issues her people were having with Voltierra. Maloran devised a clever solution, which Serafina agreed to bring up with Aristos and Braxys at a later point in time.

Var Hunting

Xangari and the adventurers set a trap for the pack of var when Sani noticed a human walking directly toward them. Serafina and Stangil remained in their positions while Sani and Maloran went to investigate. They met an odd young man named Xerus, who insisted he would not change his path. Xerus made it to the area with the trap and saw Stangil. He agreed to help them with the var if they would travel a few hours south with him to clean up a “mess” his brother, Risis had made years ago, at his mother, Idara’s order. They agreed and the var were immobilized and trapped.

A Favor for Xerus

Terrified to betray Xerus but also terrified of what they were going to find, the adventurers followed Xerus to a small, isolated house. They were invited in by Gabrielle, who grew up with Stangil in Magnus Plains.

It was quickly discovered that she, her husband, Jamus, and their daughter, Isabela, were undead (made from the blood of Samuel). Mid-conversation, Stangil struck Gabrielle. Stunned, she yelled, “you couldn’t just leave us alone?!” and retaliated. Xerus, Maloran and Sani joined the fight. Serafina left the house and began walking home.

As she did, she heard the fight and the screams of the child before the fire caught and old memories flooded back.

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Unpause

When we last left our intrepid adventurers…

Stangil Drakebane and Serafina Anduril had returned to Voltierra from a year-long diplomatic mission. At some point in the night Belaric was injured badly and was bedridden until further notice.

The next morning…
Sani Nodin, a travelling merchant awoke in his home in Voltierra. He had arrived late the night before. Sani went to his mother’s home early to visit and heard about the excitement of the summit, which had brought him here for work. He then visited his good friend, Aluria, a fellow Seedling and a council member. They discussed the situation with the Feoral and Laudengaul’s successor. Finally, the “ghosts” sighted in the Lluaran forest to the west.

Maloran Argent, worshiper of the sun, greeted the morning with a workout and then greeted his mother and sister. As the day began for others, he visited his good friend, Corezzo, to discuss the summit. Maloran was very eager to learn about the politics, leaders, and be involved in the summit for the first time.

Stangil and Serafina found themselves wanting to speak with Aristos about going west to find Stangil’s son, Rondal.

Serafina discovered that Aleetha was carrying Rondal’s child.

The Lluaran agreed to allow the humans to send more people west, under the condition that they bring a Seedling. Sani was chosen. Stangil asked for volunteers. Maloran was eager.

Avar of the Burning Dogs faction of the Feoral interrupted the summit to call out Lauudengaul and claim that Azuldir deserves a seat on the council.

Throughout the day Serafina had sought out Braeden Brightburn and Sosyth Toth-Iluith for different reasons, ensuring that the Drekar were having an easy time settling into this new and strange society.

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Home

“We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place, we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.”

To My Dearest Bael,

This will be the last letter I write you for a while. I do not mean to leave you alone but the events of the past few months on our journey back to Voltierra have led me to the conclusion that I need to make some changes in my life, for my own benefit. Let me tell you what we’ve been through and I hope that you will understand.

After we boarded the Crimson Raven, Stangil and I spoke with Braeden Brightburn about the voyage. As luck would have it, Kalloruth sent an emissary on the ship with us. It was Odoth Iluith, that weasel, and his naïve wife, Sosyth. We rounded the north-western edge of the Drekaran continent and navigated around the large islands. I was successfully able to merge their charts with our maps and piece together the known world.

Fighting Fire with Fire
Several weeks into sailing, we spotted a ship on our rear. It was gaining on us and would be upon the Crimson Raven in a day. The crewman in the crow’s nest recognized it as the Dreadnought, captained by the mercenary Eisseth. Eisseth was the threat that I had a dream about nearly a year ago after we left Aesteryl, who had kidnapped Briar and the other new humans.

Stangil gave her a chance to run up a white flag by sending a message via arrow. It was returned to us with mocking. We launched flaming ballistas immediately. The battle was horrific. It was the most terrifying thing I have ever seen. Eisseth could control fire; she was more disciplined and stronger than I. My disintegration tickled her and she could diffuse my fireballs before they hit her ship. Luckily, Belaric and the others were distracting her with flaming arrows and I was able to get a few good fireballs shot at the Dreadnought. I took out several oars on the port side and prevented her ship from ramming us. Eisseth also sent over fireballs and, unfortunately, I was unable to stop all of them from damaging our ship and killing our men. Snuffing out the fires on our deck was a new manifestation of my powers. I am thankful that I could focus so well in the heat of battle; that may have saved some lives.

Both ships crashed together, bow to stern. Stangil swung from one of our masts to board the Dreadnought and I took a moment to gawk at how amazingly heroic he is. I have come to rely on him as more than a companion or friend, but as someone to whom I would entrust my life. Others followed his lead and we brought the fight to their deck. Stangil blew a hole through the top deck with Cybil and jumped below to avoid a fireball from Eisseth. I laid down a wall of fire that no one, with the exception of Arianna and Eisseth, could walk through.

As Stangil returned to the fight above, the sea ceased moving. The waves froze. Everyone stood still. Memories of you and your father flashed through my mind. Happy memories that I locked away half a lifetime ago returned to me and flooded my mind. I saw Leviathan. I saw Eliah. I saw you. I saw the fire that consumed our home and took you and your father away from me. When the visions faded, I snapped back into the present. Many people were still dazed and stunned. I assume they saw things as well.

Belaric stood up and told me not to look behind me. Of course, I looked. There was a portal. On the other side of it was you. I saw your handsome, innocent face for the first time in twenty years and it brought me so much peace. Belaric said that he was told this would happen and that he was prepared as he began to run to the portal. I tripped him and the portal closed.

For that, my love, I am not sorry. In that moment, I realized what he was going to do and I could not let him. As much as I miss you and though you are a piece of my heart, I could not let Belaric sacrifice himself. I could not lose one more person that I loved. I do not know if Somnambuliss had set him up or if he really would have been able to pull you through, but I refused to find out if it was a cruel trick. As the portal closed, Belaric screamed and my heart sank for him. I had previously been blind to how much he wanted to make me happy and how unhappy I had seemed to others. It was a wake-up call.

Speaking of waking up, the battle resumed. There was fire everywhere. I was sweeping away dreadnoughts and shouted at Arianna to snap out of it before she got hurt. Belaric shot two arrows deep into Eisseth. Arianna struck her from chin to sternum. Stangil was about to finish her when she pleaded, “stop.” We gave the command for everyone to hold. Stangil and I gave our word that if Eisseth answered all of our questions, we would let her go. She told us that Tol’Storig had hired her and seemed to know little else. That was enough for us.

I pleaded to Stangil to give her over to Briar and the two other new humans because they were owed some vindication. Stangil insisted that we gave our word and must let her go. I hesitated. I thought about ending her right then and there. Eisseth had caused so much destruction and pain and even as she was bleeding out, she was laughing at us. Then, Stangil turned to me, said that I was too good a person to have to do this and snapped the demon’s neck. He then took one of her eight horns as a trophy.

No one could speak for a long while. I wanted to retreat into my cabin and never leave. The dreadnoughts surrendered and agreed to work with us. Braeden said he could salvage both ships. I treated as many wounded as I could. We kept busy.

Smooth Sailing
I found Belaric as soon as the high priority tasks were delegated and carried out. We had a heart to heart and he explained that neither of us were happy and he saw an opportunity to make me happy. He wanted that for me, no matter the cost. I told him that that was not what I wanted. I was moved by his sacrifice but it was not his responsibility to change my past and I certainly did not want him to pay the price. I love him, Bael. Belaric makes me happy and has brought to light feelings that I had hidden and ignored for years. I want to be with him and I think that I could make him happy; I would at least like the chance to try. For that, I need to move on from my past and stop living frozen in time. I think that was why I was able to shake the effect of the memories more quickly than others… I’m used to it.

Stangil, on the other hand, spent as much time as he could in the following weeks repairing both ships. He exhausted himself every day until he ran out of work to do. The guilt he felt for breaking his word broke his spirit. Finally, Stangil had to fill the silence and talk to Julian. Stangil poured his anguish, guilt, and angst into Julian and, in return, was consoled. Julian never judges Stangil; he supports him. It may take a very long time for Stangil to forgive himself and I know a little something about that.

The remainder of the trip was uneventful. We noticed nearly ten thousand southern Feoral organized off the coast. Over a dozen banners, including the Burning Dogs and the Chosen Sons were present. Several hundred Dolgari were enslaved and forced to feed the Feoral. We stopped by Magnus Plains for Stangil and Julian to search ruins for some of Rheumaous’s possessions. Finally, we went upriver for a few days and moored in Lake Sayesteya.

Rolling Out the Welcoming Mats
We were greeted upon our return by Gregar, Rheumaous and Ithaca. Then, we were escorted to court where Aristos presented us and thanked us for our blah blah blah. Gauladek was in the crowd, watching as we walked in with Odoth Iluith and Sosyth. Low and behold, Seripathia was sitting in a council seat next to the king’s mistress, Asala. I was surprised to see so many faces from the other continent had arrived before us.

An hour later, Stangil and I spoke privately with Aristos. Honestly, I would rather have nothing to do with kings and people in power and I am happy when my name is not remembered. Aristos was aware of the Feoral in the south and said that it was not our place to get involved. Seripathia is not on the council, but she is present because Elrathia sent word that she could be trusted. I have to say that that woman has terrible judgment… then again, I’m usually not a fan of people who poison me. In retrospect, it makes sense that those two are friends; they are both so fond of getting their way by poisoning others.

Strange, ghost-like beings were attacking people in the Western Lluaran forests. Rondal was a hero and had saved Luke. Luke had been badly injured so he and Roash were sent back to give word on their progress. A black and red dragon, whom Stangil is confident is Trellius, is also attacking that region. Trellius is the dragon whose son Stangil killed twenty years ago. I remained mostly silent while the two men argued over dragon eggs. Aristos was not happy that Stangil was openly discussing this in front of me. Stangil stood up for me. I was exhausted from the frustrating uselessness of politics and glad to leave when the conversation was over.

The last bit of pomp that we had to endure was a feast in our honor that night. I wandered around the city, not knowing where to go because, of course, the last time I was here I failed to find a home. I found my way to a familiar home… and saw Belaric being greeted by several of his daughters. They invited me in and I told him who I saw in court and that I was not going to the feast. Belaric, the man who supposedly prefers to be home, insisted that the feast would be fun with so many “characters” mixed together, so I borrowed a dress and we went.

A Feast for Heroes
I spoke with Odoth at the feast and watched the weasel squirm when I mentioned Gauladeck was present. I shared words with Gauladeck, who it seems is more of an ally than an enemy. Luke sought out Stangil but was not well-received. I ran into Bruinen… he is doing well. I was so surprised to see him that I could barely speak. Stangil and I spoke to Roash, who was a regular urggen’s ass. I decided to let my vengeance rampage go and let the past remain in the past. I sat at the bar next to Belaric, who easily rallied my lifetime of pent-up anger and we agreed that I would find Stangil, he would find Roash, and we would meet at the summer house in the woods.

I Waited Half My Life for this Moment
When Stangil and I arrived at the house, we saw Roash tied up in a chair and Belaric bleeding profusely from his gut. Roash had gotten a good swipe in with a knife, cutting through his abdomen. I rushed to patch him up while Stangil checked to make sure Roash was secured. I confronted him a second time about the night of the fire. After a few rounds of vague facts, we retrieved some useful information. Roash set the fire. Roash pulled me from the house. He did these things because Noella (Cyth’s sister, a seer) saw both you and Eliah as a threat to Cyth in the future. She told Roash that you would become something evil. I wanted to destroy him.

I wanted to make him feel what I felt and the only way to do that would be to hit his weakness, the family he loves… Cyth’s widow and son. But as easily as the anger came, it disappeared. I know the truth now. I no longer have to bear the guilt that I carried for so many years. I didn’t care what happened to him at this point. Vindication, revenge… it all seemed so pointless. Nothing I could do to him would bring you or Eliah back. Nothing I could do to him would give me back the half of my life I wasted on grieving. I was ready to walk away.

Then… Roash said that Rondal was probably dead. Before I could react, Stangil had cut him in half. I cleaned the room while Stangil buried the body. We brought Belaric home. I watched over him all night to make sure he would survive. I will be keeping him under wraps while he heals so no one will be suspicious. People will notice that Roash disappeared… I need to fade back into obscurity for a while.

Stangil needs to be home with Julian and their children. If the time comes that Aristos sends more people out west, Stangil will volunteer and I will go with him. But my plan for now is to make Voltierra my home.

Closure
Bruinen asked me to dinner. He professed his love for me… after fifteen years. A heart like his cannot imagine the darkness that I carry. He cannot fathom the things that have changed me, changed all of us, over the past year. For that, I am grateful. Humanity as a whole should never have to see the things that we have seen. For our race to thrive, we need to be happy. Survival means a few of us have to face the horrors of the world privately.

Anyway, I told Bruinen that I would love to get to know him again and meet his children. However, for now, I want to pursue this special thing between me and Belaric. Not to mention, I have a few other things to try out, like settling down in civilization. This is why I have to stop writing you for a while. You will always be in my heart, son, but I need to move forward. I will never forget you and the past year has shown me that new things can happen in my life without losing any memories of you.

With all my love,
Your Mommy – Serafina

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Amendments

The humans returned to their quarters swiftly that night. They were immediately aware of the mistake that had been made and the insult that they had directed at Kalloruth. The next morning Serafina asked Governor Anton to requested another audience with Kalloruth so they could repair the damage that had been done and apologize. Messages were sent to Voranyth and each Arkon explaining the vision and requesting a cessation of hostilities, for the good of everyone. A special message was sent to Arkon Desrond Toth to warn him about the dangers of fighting over Aesteryl and to invite him to send an emissary to the annual summit in Voltierra. Finally, Serafina commissioned a sword as a gift for Braeden Brightburn, who would be transporting them home when they left Fey’oth.

Guildmaster Gunnick sent a letter containing a trade agreement to Stangil Drakebane for review.

The humans laid low that day and patiently awaited news of a second chance with Kalloruth. That night, Reikasha visited Stangil. He was in possession of a frozen tear from Leopa, with the ability to contain Kalloruth’s power for a moment. Stangil explained that they had decided to take a safer course of action. Reikatha’s parting thoughts were, “you’ll be sorry.”

Three weeks passed before Serafina and Stangil were granted another audience with Cardinal Durden. They explained to him that their intentions were to apologize to Kalloruth, make amends, and discuss Aesteryl.

They then met with Kalloruth. Stangil apologized for his fiery words. Kalloruth demanded that the humans did not trade with the Arkons of the southern lands. A compromise was made that they would trade openly with all, but not in war goods. Kalloruth agreed to send Drekar to live outside of Aesteryl and defend it against Voranyth’s mercenaries in return for shared knowledge and power. The meeting was successful and no blood was shed.

After, the FimmDrekar sat down to dessert with the humans. Despite this being the first they had been able to spend time together and having a reason to celebrate, the Fimm Drekar seemed on edge. Serafina pressed the issue until Garceroth revealed in an outburst that Shykelith had vouched for them and taken a lashing for their insolence toward Kalloruth.

That night, with heavy hearts, Serafina wrote a heartfelt letter of appreciation and apology to Shykelith and Stangil made a beautiful replica of her ship. Serafina delivered her letter to Shykelith personally with a salve she made for her wounds.

On the morning of their departure, the humans were sent off with words of farewell and gifts from the Fimm Drekar. They boarded the Crimson Raven and set sail.

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Get on with it!

As Stangil Drakebane, Serafina Anduril, and their companions entered the city of Fey’Oth they were wowed by how massive and pristine the grand city was. Veins of gold glittered in the cracks of the white buildings, making everything shine even more. Inside the Fimm Drekar’s compound the human envoy was shown their own wing.

Once they were in the privacy of their own room, Stangil and Julian spoke freely to each other. Stangil asked if Julian thought that the Fimm Drekar were acting differently toward them and if they perhaps noticed his and Serafina’s tattoos. Julian expressed that he wanted to return home and had no interest in taking sides. There was concern about the behavior of Briar and the new humans. Stangil informed Julian that it was the time of the full moon and he intended on contacting Aristos that evening with the mirror, despite not having met with Kalloruth yet. Enough time had passed without any contact that it seemed necessary.

After their conversation, Stangil found Serafina in her room with Belaric. They discussed the Fimm Drekar, tattoos, sending word to Reikasha, having Belaric attempt to touch base with any Taalen’Vost in the city, praying to their “friend” (whose name they would not speak aloud, Somnambuliss), cajoling Briar and company into behaving themselves, delegating the responsibility of keeping an eye on Briar to Abrahm, and asking Mirrick what tales he could tell of Kalloruth and Voranyth. Stangil and Serafina divided their tasks and set themselves to work.

Serafina began with Abrahm. She asked him to watch over Briar and the other humans from Aesteryl, ensuring that they did not say or do anything offensive while in Fey’Oth. He seemed nervous and unsure, so she inspired him to take charge and be a leader. That totally went well.

Stangil made his way to Briar’s room. After knocking and announcing himself, he discerned the sound of heavy furniture being slid on the marble floor and then, “come in.” Briar and the others had barricaded the door and positioned themselves in defensive points around the room. Stangil attempted to encourage Briar to open her mind to new experiences and cultures. Still scarred from their introduction to the Drekar, Briar and company were not convinced. She did promise that they would cause no trouble, but impressed upon him their eagerness to return to the human lands and reunite with their people. Finally, she asked Stangil if he could give them some protective armor, to which he agreed.

Serafina found Mirrick sitting alone in his room, contentedly settled in. To her disappointment, she found no new useful information in the lore of Kalloruth.

Dinner was announced and all twenty were shown to a large dining hall. Serafina noticed the continued absence of the Fimm Drekar. The five course meal was prepared expertly and servants kept glasses full. Toward the end of the meal, an authoritative man was shown in. He introduced himself as Governor Anton, their host during their stay.

Governor Anton informed the human consort that he had requested an audience with Kalloruth for them. In the meantime, Emissary Udoth Iluith and his wife had requested an audience with them. Also, dozens of merchants wished to discuss opening trade with the humans. The humans were to have free reign of the compound, with the exception of the Fimm Drekar’s wing. They were allowed to leave and explore the city, but it was highly suggested that they take an escort (guard) with them.

Before retiring for the night, Stangil went out to find a suitable sacrifice for which to offer the mirror. He found a menagerie in town and was able to purchase a lion. With little effort and concern for being noticed, Stangil returned to the compound with the beast tied and slung over his shoulder and retreated to his room. Shoving it through his doorway caused enough of a stir to wake Serafina across the hall.

Serafina opened her door and saw Stangil struggling to push something large, winged, and furry in his room. “Do I want to know?”

“Do you?” he responded.

“I don’t want to know,” she replied and went back to sleep.

Apprehensive, Julian watched over Stangil as he bled the animal, drew sigils, and fell asleep.


Aristos did not seem pleased to see Stangil. First, Stangil disclosed the possibility that the Fimm Drekar had noticed his and Serafina’s tattoos and the danger they might be in. Aristos notified Stangil of a vision that Noella had seen. Thrice, she saw two serpents fighting, one killing the other and moving across the sea. Each time, a different serpent was the victor. Stangil told Aristos what he knew of Voranyth and Kalloruth and asked which seemed like a lesser threat. The order returned was to make a decision using his best judgment.

Lastly, Stangil inquired about Rondal and the dispatch to the Lluaran forest in the west. There had been no word for several months. There was open warfare in the forests and the Lluaran had been attacked, but it was not known with whom they were defending themselves against. Aristos said to Stangil, “you need to come home as soon as possible.” With this news and intense dread, Stangil was pulled from the dream and awoke.


Serafina sat up in bed alone. Naiora was nowhere to be seen. Belaric was not present. There was a thin layer of fog covering the floor. She got out of bed and rounded the corner to the other half of the room to see Somnambuliss grinning. Searching once more for direction, Serafina became frustrated with ambiguous answers and questions in return. Somnambuliss toyed with her, saying that she was not asking the right questions. Once again, Serafina was told that they needed to make a decision for themselves.


Unable to tell what time it was and also unconcerned, the enraged Stangil stormed out of his room and to the bathhouse. The noise startled Serafina awake but as she found herself snuggled between Naiora and Belaric and there were no sounds of a fight, she decided it could wait.

Stangil found Arianna bathing after her morning workout. “If the decision was yours, which dragon would you kill?” he asked her.

Arianna signed, “Kalloruth.”

He then retold his conversation with Aristos and added, “I trust you to check me because my son is on my mind. I need to go home and save my son.” With that, Arianna squeezed his shoulder and left him alone to contemplate.

The bath was not calming so Julian took Stangil for a run outside.


Serafina woke again, still snuggled between Naiora and Belaric. She quietly stretched and Belaric stirred. He had been out late looking for brothers, and was successful. Braeden Brightburn and his crew were in port and would provide transportation home when they required. A message was also successfully sent to Reikasha.

Belaric was still exhausted, so Serafina promised to wake him for breakfast before going out into the common room to check on their companions.

When Stangil returned from his run with Julian he and Serafina shared their news in the privacy of his room. Serafina understood his agitation and pledged to help him find his son when they returned. There was a knock at the door and Stangil answered.

Governor Anton was in the doorway. He seemed to ignore the large dead animal, pool of dried blood, and splatter of blood in the room. To the point, he announced that the humans would have an audience with Kalloruth at sunset, Emissary Udoth Iluith would arrive mid-morning with his wife, and the merchants would be arriving before lunch. Serafina requested a meeting with Shykelith, which visibly stunned the governor.

Stangil needed time to recover before meeting with Kalloruth, so Serafina offered to handle the meetings alone while he went into the city to find something to distract his hands.


Emissary Udoth Iluith and his new wife, Sosyth arrived mid-morning. Sosyth was so happy to see Serafina that she ignored formalities and wrapped Serafina up in a hug. Udoth tried to keep his poise while Sosyth gushed about how she was here and with her love all because of Serafina. When she settled down, Udoth attempted to speak formally with Serafina, asking how long the humans intended to be in Fey’Oth. When Serafina responded, “we are weary of traveling and wish to return home as soon as possible,” he offered the service of his family’s fleet of ships (all three of them).

Sensing that the emissary had an air of importance around him, Serafina attempted to make polite conversation and ask about the Iluith family business. In short she became bored with Udoth’s arrogance and Sosyth’s constant fluttering. A sad reference to Gauladek was made and Serafina realized that they did not know that he had survived.

Serafina excitedly told Sosyth that her brother was alive and well. She had seen him just outside of Haimir, en route to Shaeth. Sosyth was overjoyed. In contrast, the blood drained from Udoth’s face. Noticing his reaction, Serafina suggested that Sosyth immediately write to him and make a plan to see her family again now that she is married and can build a bridge between the two families. Udoth offered to send a messenger for her right away, but Serafina interjected, trying to convince Sosyth that she could borrow a messenger from the Fimm Drekar, which would travel faster and more safely, guaranteeing that Gauladek would receive the message. With that, Udoth Iluith abruptly ended the visit and hurried Sosyth home. Serafina smirked, happy with herself.

Later that afternoon, Serafina was ushered into a large conference hall where two dozen merchants and guild masters were led in. Serafina introduced herself and began the discussion of opening trade. None of the men were eager to speak and most had looks of consternation on their faces.

When asked what was wrong, one man spoke that he was concerned that she intended to speak with them all at once. Serafina explained that in the interest of saving time, she would gather information about their goods, trades, skills, and so forth, bringing the details home to interested merchants. This did not loosen any tongues. She asked again why they were not speaking. Another man answered for the crowd that they had expected to speak with “the big guy.”

“If you do not wish to speak business with me, feel free to leave,” Serafina paused. She motioned for a few men at the opposite end of the table to move to one side. Ever so elegantly, she lobbed a ball of fire at the cold fireplace and said, “thank you, it was chilly in here.”

Guildmaster Hubel Gunrick introduced himself and the rest fell in line. Business was discussed and the remainder of the meeting went well, Serafina thought.


Serafina checked on Julian and Zeuth before taking a guard with her to the market where she intended on buying jerky for Naiora, chocolates for Piala, and some local fruit for herself. Whilst enjoying the immaculate city, she spotted a small child in the doorway of a tent holding a sign that read, in human, “come here.” As quickly as she saw it, it was gone. Leaving her guard, Serafina entered the merchant tent.

Shykelith sat inside, “you wanted to see me, Tadpole?” Serafina described her concern that they had neither seen nor heard from the Fimm Drekar since arriving in the city, despite staying in the same building. Shykelith explained that they were “warned not to interfere with [your] meetings.” Serafina pressed, asking if it had anything to do with her and Stangil’s tattoos. They had been noticed.

“It was discovered to whom your allegiance truly lies,” Shykelith admitted. Both women expressed their care for each other but the conversation ended with her warning Serafina to be careful.


Stangil awoke from his nap to the smell of smoke. There was a figure on his couch. It was Reikasha. Weeks ago he received a message from Elrathia to meet them in Fey’Oth now, so there he was. He asked Stangil what they were planning and why. He offered his aid.

Later, Stangil relayed this information to Serafina, Arianna and Belaric. They planned to have a nice talk with Kalloruth and then decide what course of action to take.


A carriage arrived and carried Stangil, Serafina, Arianna, and Belaric to the palace. Once over the portcullis they saw hundreds of honor guards and the Fimm Drekar watching from a balcony.

Inside they were introduced to Cardinal Durden, glowing with an aura of strong heat. He welcomed the three humans and one Feoral into his office and began to answer their questions about Kalloruth. They discussed her divinity, philosophy of ruling, and methods. Stangil weighed the difference between her strategies and Voranyth’s.

Durden noted that Shykelith had said many good things about the humans but immediately addressed Stangil and Serafina’s allegiance to Somnambuliss. Stangil stood by his friend where Serafina once again remained vague about her loyalty and reminded the cardinal that their tattoos did not speak for all of their party, let alone humankind.

Cardinal Durden mentioned the dragon egg that Zheiserayth had seen in Stangil’s possession. He said that it belongs to true dragons. Stangil’s retort is that the egg will be given to its rightful owner when their identity is revealed and to no one else.

Finally, they discussed the proper customs to observe when in the presence of Her Divinity, Kalloruth.


The foursome were led up a series of long switchbacks, leading up the inside of the mountain. At the top, they entered a cave that was full of volcanic glass. The opening of the cavern overlooked the ocean. Sunset approached and there were rows of about 200 people kneeling. At sunset a short ceremony was observed and the other people left. Stangil, Serafina, Arianna, and Belaric remained abased. They were given permission to rise and saw a dragon, over 250 feet long staring at them.

In the corner of the cavern, on a pile of glass, laid a large dragon’s skull with primal fire burning inside. Other than that, it was very unlike Voranyth’s lair. There was not much else, no treasure, just glass shards. Unlike the rest of the city, there was nothing ostentatious about Kalloruth’s cave. All of this was in stark contrast with what they had seen in Shaeth.

Gifts were exchanged and Stangil carved a beautiful statue of Kalloruth, as he did for Voranyth. Both sides expressed an interest in an alliance, peace, and open trade. Kalloruth questioned and evaluated their stance on Somnambuliss.

Serafina asked about the skull in the corner. They learned that Kalloruth and Voranyth had not only killed and devoured their mother, Leopa, but other great dragons as well. That skull belonged to Vulgaros.

Stangil told Kalloruth of the vision and said that it was interpreted as a potential threat. Kalloruth seemed upset by this.

More of the conversation turned to the difference between her and Voranyth. The culmination of the meeting being Kalloruth asking about them traveling with family and friends, which Stangil took as a threat to Julian’s life. It became clear that the discussion might soon turn hostile and both parties took leave.

Kalloruth offered the humans transportation home. Serafina requested the opportunity to say goodbye to the Fimm Drekar before they departed. She had grown close to them, especially Shykelith.

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Hot and Bothered

Reunited with the FimmDrekar, our heroes readied themselves to traverse a great desert for the better part of a month to get to Fey’oth and meet Kalloruth. The Fimm Drekar seemed very interested in what Stangil Drakebane and Serafina Anduril thought of Voranyth. They discussed the different methods of rulership between Voranyth and Kalloruth and what the Fimm Drekar believed so strongly in.

Serafina asked Shykelith if she had received her message in Breakwater and was relieved to discover that Piala was safe in Fey’Oth.


Ten days into the trek the caravan reached a small town where they planned on stopping to resupply. As they entered, people bowed and reached out to the Fimm Drekar, who blessed them as they passed by touching the people’s palms and rolling their fingertips down the lengths of their fingers.

The band restocked supplies and Belaric went out in search for beer with the one hundred gold Serafina gave him. Julian and Stangil spent some quality time together. They were both concerned about their son, Rondal, who had been sent on a mission with Elrathia King’s daughter, Mellara. They knew that Elrathia had left in the middle of the night, she had been pulled through the mirror for a mysterious family emergency and left the mirror she used to communicate with Aristos for Stangil.

That evening, Stangil purchased three dogs from farmers and used them to activate the mirror in the room he shared with Julian at the inn. Aristos asked what they thought of Voranyth. Stangil asked about Rondal and was told that word returned sporadically, but there had been no contact in five weeks. Stangil reported about the Twisted Men. As time was running out, Aristos instructed Stangil to reach out in another month, after they had met with Kalloruth. Stangil awoke feeling worse than any hangover he had ever experienced. “More dogs, next time,” he said to Julian.

Meanwhile, Belaric happily returned with two kegs and placed one on the bar for Serafina to try. She took a sip of the delicious honey mead but as she set her cup down, she noticed two or three drops of red liquid falling to the counter in front of her. She slowly looked up and saw a dark reddish-brown puddle on the ceiling. She gestured for Belaric to look up.

The pair dashed upstairs and Belaric kicked in the door just as Julian had gotten up to retrieve a glass of water for Stangil. Stangil, “mostly dead” from the ritual, barely lifted his head. Julian had reached for his blade before he saw who had just entered. Belaric looked distraught at the three dead dogs on the floor. Serafina, recognizing what had happened, slowly backed out of the room and closed the door, that swung loosely on its hinges and didn’t quite latch.

Belaric asked Stangil, “what the fuck is going on?!” Stangil explained the mirror, communicating with Aristos, and the blood draining ritual. Angrily, Belaric suggested, “you might want to do it on the first floor next time.” He paused, “anyone missing these dogs?” Stangil replied that he purchased them. “Fucked up,” he said as he left the room, shaking his head.

In his own room with Serafina, Belaric expressed how upset he was that Stangil had used dogs. “They’re like people.” Serafina, with her chronic foot-in-mouth syndrome, said he didn’t seem to have a problem when it was a Twisted Man that had attacked them on the road, forgetting that at the time, Belaric was building funeral pyres. Belaric then discovered that she had been present while Stangil tortured him and that they gave him to Elrathia to use the mirror. Belaric then ranted about torture, ritualistic sacrifice, right and wrong, and dark magic, before going to bed angry.


Over breakfast the next morning Serafina apologized to Belaric, who remained terse. Stangil awoke, still feeling the effects of the mirror’s magic and headed downstairs for food with Julian. As Stangil sat down to eat, Belaric clocked him. Stangil ordered breakfast and everyone ate in silence.

Serafina ate hastily but as she got up to leave, Stangil said, “wait. Sit.” He then recounted his conversation with Aristos. Stangil also revealed a plan to incapacitate the Fimm Drekar if they were going to attempt an attack on Kalloruth, recalling their susceptibility to poison that one time on that ship with those pirates.

Stangil also addressed Belaric’s concerns with the use of the mirror, explaining the need to sacrifice a predatory animal, promising to request a better sacrifice option the next time, but that he was worried about Rondal. Belaric shot back that the ends don’t justify the means. Stangil reasoned that the dogs were old and killed quickly and mercifully. The conversation ended and the travelers renewed their trek through the desert.


The intense desert heat bothered nearly everyone. Arianna, Garceroth, and Serafina were the least uncomfortable. Sand was everywhere, including up Stangil’s ass and his mood was a constant reminder. There were shards of dark dragon glass littered across stretches of their path, most likely formed by Kalloruth long ago.

Serafina approached Garceroth to ask for training. Garceroth agreed, but needed time to think about what she wanted in return.

Days later, as they neared their second resupply oasis, they noticed smoke off the horizon. Guards rushed them but stopped and kneeled when they recognized the Fimm Drekar’s tabards with the white five-pointed star sigil. A day earlier, marauders had swept through, burned half the town, and stolen people, tools and supplies.

Further investigation revealed that about two dozen Drekar had attacked and headed west eighteen hours ago. The Fimm Drekar were unconcerned with a rescue mission and the humans, tired and hot, did not push. Serafina deferred to their escorts’ preference and Stangil did not want to extend his time in the desert. He spent the day helping to restore the smithy to the best of his abilities and that was that.


That evening, Serafina went to get a drink and immediately spit out the vile liquid. Nearby, Stangil laughed heartily. A day earlier, he had poured out the remainder of the mead and refilled the keg with water. Serafina slowly poured the water out of her mug and walked away. She found Belaric to warn him about the water keg, talk about the town and lament the fact that they weren’t doing anything to help. Julian and Stangil had a similar conversation. Later, Julian passed by Serafina, put his hand on her shoulder and said, “I’m sorry for your loss.”

Before leaving the next morning, Serafina went in search of replacement alcohol. She confused the merchant and convinced him that she was insane by first offering 10 gold for a keg, and then 150 gold. Excited that she used money for the first time, she proudly brought the keg to the wagon.

Spirits were heavy when they left the town that morning. The Drekar townsfolk were sullen and the tone was very different from the last town they had departed.


Several days more of sand and heat, something large was spotted heading towards the caravan. As it approached, its form became clearer to the party. About 100 feet long and 15 feet wide, a giant worm was weaving in and out of the sand. Stangil ran his sword into it, attempting to pin it to the ground. The worm continued to move forward, as Cybil sliced it in two. Others surrounded it and attacked at different angles. Serafina laid her hands on the worm and as she touched it, she dug elbow-deep into the thing, burning and scraping flesh off as it moved. Stangil swung again and cut 30 feet off the tail.

It took five of them to dig up the head. Stangil removed the two largest fangs to keep as trophies.

That evening while they rested, Serafina gave Abrahm some bad advice about girls when she noticed he had a thing for one of the new humans, Briar. A buzzard was pecking at Stangil until he knocked it out and gave it to Serafina to cook for dinner. Abrahm struck out.


As they neared the end of their journey and exited the desert, they came upon the foothills of a mountain with beautiful autumn weather. There were trees and grass and Stangil’s mood improved greatly. It began to rain. Stangil was so elated he stripped and bathed in nature’s shower. He handed a bar of soap to Serafina and she joined him.

The Fimm Drekar took them to a quaint tavern beside a river. There was limited space, so several of the humans were going to have to sleep in the barn. Briar expressed to Serafina that she felt like she and the other new humans were not valued and were always treated second-class. Tired, and wishing to avoid a confrontation, Serafina offered her and Belaric’s room to Briar. Briar accepted.

Belaric was not thrilled that Serafina had given up their room and volunteered them for the barn. She tried to win him over with wit.

Everyone got to bathe! Bodily stank and ill-moods were both lifted away. Serafina tried to put in a good word for Abrahm with Briar, to no avail. The two teamsters that were supposed to share the barn loft with Serafina and Belaric were scared away and slept on the hearth instead.


There was a large, family-style breakfast the next morning with eggs, meats, biscuits, gravy… everyone was there except the Fimm Drekar. Stangil stepped outside and saw them talking with someone mounted on a weird animal. He asked Shykelith if everything was okay and she said that they were merely sending word to Fey’oth so the city could prepare for their arrival. Serafina asked what the mount was and learned that it was called a horse. They were rare and special, only given to those who were close to Kalloruth.

Instead of walking to Fey’oth, they were provided with large carriages, led by more horses. The front of each carriage was donned with Kalloruth’s symbol of flames and the back with the white star of the Fimm Drekar.

Three days later they arrived in Fey’oth, a large shining city nestled at the base of a mountain and up against the sea. The city had prepared a grand reception, clearing a path for the carriages. There were bands, banners, and the procession was like a parade in their honor.

Past the inner gates of the city they were taken to the home of the Fimm Drekar. It became clear just how culturally significant they were to this society. Their home was larger than Aritsos’s keep. The humans gawked in awe as they exited the carriages and were welcomed by Shykelith and the other Fimm Drekar to their home in Fey’oth.

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