Legends of Moonsong City

what is faith really
Thifal

Thifal was conflicted staying in these halls. On the one hand, it was nice to rest without having to worry about anything trying to kill them. On the other, they still have not gotten close to solving any of the myriad of problems they have been encountering, and just seem to be getting more problems to take care of.

As he spends time admiring and observing the stonework, his thoughts always went to the marvel now on his belt, Oathkeeper, and a thought he knows shouldn’t be spoken as to not worry about the others – just what is faith really.

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Aftermath... (Day 2)
Thelonius

Thelonius tries to meditate after his meeting with the dragon queen / witch. Yet no matter how he tries he cannot settle enough to find his center. Lightly leaping to his feet he starts to pace, then, realizing what he is doing, stops and takes a deep breath. Remembering the warnings given to him about her, he clamps down on his thoughts mercilessly and walks to one of the storerooms they found earlier that he felt would be large enough for him to practice his katas.

Using every mind calming technique his teachers drilled into him, he stretches and warms up to get ready for the practice. Looking about the cramped space of the room, he wishes he would have been more persistent in his request to practice outdoors. At the moment he could really use the cool air and sense of freedom, even if he was at the top of a mountain with no way down other than on the back of a dragon…

Shaking his head he determines not to pursue that line of thought; nor to think too much about his hostess or her servants. Too many avenues to consider that could very well get him into more trouble than at any time he had displeased the Abbott with his constant questions. Yet all he found were more questions the longer he traveled with this group of adventurers.

Moving through his routine, trying to focus on the precision of each move and strike, he runs through the group’s conversations with Gelt and Mountain Breeze. Ultimately Thelonius realizes he may be wrong but he knows that the only way to be certain will be to ask yet more questions. Never one to understand or appreciate the more subtle paths, he wishes more than ever that he would have paid more attention to what the Abbott had tried to teach him. A rueful smile on his face, Thelonius realizes that the old man would laugh something fierce were he to hear the young monk admit this.

Finishing his routine one last time, Thelonius builds a list of questions in the depth of his mind, hoping that they aren’t noticed, and makes a vow to himself to ask the others about his questions/concerns when the time is appropriate. Somehow he suspects that none of the questions he has will earn him any more respect, especially from the Bard, yet he needs answers that he suspects they may have, and if he is right they will have to know what he suspects…

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At Least He Wears Armor...
Milo

Annoyed to have his daily prayers interrupted, Milo closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He had been summoned to the tavern in Kirin. He would have to assume Kihlgarrah, the tinfoil warrior, had good reason. Seriously, you’d think if you were going to wade straight into a group of monsters you’d have the good sense to wear something tougher than a fringed buckskin loincloth, or at least learn to duck. But then maybe the barbarian was just following the lead of his pal in the orange pajamas, Arnie the monk. No weapons, no armor, and all the grace (and common sense) of a maimed fire beetle. It was no wonder the monk was knocked out more often than the fall guy in a prize fight. During their previous outing with Lady Charity, Kihlgarrah and Arnie had been so resoundingly thrashed by the monsters, that Milo was asked to walk at the front of the party. As Bahamut directs: “Honor and Protection to the Lesser Races.”

When Milo entered the tavern he saw the Arnie still “medicating” his injuries, Arabella the haughty wizard woman who acted like Milo is some sort of minion, and the other halfling, Tifa. Sigh. The sneaking, thieving, literally backstabbing Tifa. One might think Milo would be pleased to have a compatriot, but this other halfling only reminded Milo of why he had been more than willing join the Temple of Bahamut as a child, leaving behind his tiny village with its “gray areas” and nebulous morals. Looking around the tavern, Milo also noticed the distinct absence of the half elf oracle, Narni. Milo could only imagine what she was up to. Well, to be honest, he was quickly learning it was best not to imagine what people were up to. He knew he had been sent to Moonsong by his mentor to be exposed to the wider world, but this past month had Milo questioning the plan.

Milo’s thoughts were interrupted by a towering human in a horned helmet and with an accent that made everything exiting his mouth sound like “hurdy gurdy gurdy hurdy”. Milo had read tales of such men, but had always imagined their voices to be a lot more intimidating. The Viking introduced himself as Sven, Emissary of Lady Charity. ‘Emissary’ with a capital ‘E’, mind you. At least he wore armor made of actual metal and carried a shield. Sven had been sent by Lady Charity to lead the group on another mission into the Prison of Kirin. The Lady had discovered an area infested with goblins, and requested that the group clear them out. Sven also mentioned rumors that the goblins were led by a “demon man”. Milo couldn’t help but be a little excited about the chance to vanquish an enemy worthy of an agent of Bahamut. As enticement to the less honorable party members, Lady Charity sent along 200 gold pieces. The group accepted the offer and wisely used the money to buy Kihlgarrah some thicker armor and an economy pack of healing potions.

Sven led them from the tavern to a cave entrance which was guarded by a lone goblin and a rushing stream. Upon sighting the goblin, Sven let out a battle cry and charged the cave. The fighter’s enormous armor allowed him to sprint only halfway to the stream. At the sight of this curtailed rush, Milo slapped his forehead nearly giving himself a haircut with the blades on his spiked gauntlet. Not to worry, Arnie, the silken whirlwind monk, would show Sven how it was done, gliding through the woods and leaping the 10 foot wide rush of water. As far as Milo could tell, the monk’s over-sized pants cuff caught on a branch or maybe his foot slipped. Regardless, Arnie landed face first in… what turned out to be a 6 inch deep rivulet. Milo could see his companions had spent their recuperating time well.

The racket obviously alerted the goblin guard, who scampered into the cave. It also alerted the goblins hiding in the trees above the party. You can’t make this stuff up, folks. Our stalwart band dispatched the goblins, and discovered that Sven and Kihlgarrah are pretty good at climbing trees but not so good at jumping between them. They also discovered they were missing a monk. Sven told them that he saw the monk chasing into the cave after the first goblin. When asked why he didn’t mention this earlier, he said he “was busy being a flying squirrel and squirrels can’t talk.” With a sigh, Arabella led the party into the cave to find, astonishingly, that Arnie was holding his own against three goblins, having already dealt with three others. Sadly the Law of Diminishing Ninjas took effect and Arnie was knocked unconscious before the goblins were cleaned up. The group now had four healing potions.

In for a penny in for a pound. At least with Sven leading, Milo could guard the rear as the adventurers explored the caverns. The group settled into a rhythm of searching, slashing, and sacking. Tifa’s explanation to Sven that the group liked to check the door for traps and alarms before the hasty Viking smashed through it became something of a mantra as Tifa went over it with Sven at each and every door. The rhythm was disrupted as the party entered a room occupied by three goblins crouching behind overturned tables. Behind the goblins was a prison cell in which both goblins and humans were chained to the walls. According to Arabella, one of the goblins immediately headed for the cell door yelling “Kill the prisoners!” (who in their right mind learns Goblin? Milo wanted to know). The other goblins fired at the party. After a quick fight there were zero unconscious adventurers, three dead goblins, one stabbed prisoner, and one murdered table. Kihlgarrah was disappointed to learn tables were not worth experience points.

Investigating the prisoners Milo quickly determined all the goblins and two of the humans are evil, but the human that was stabbed by the goblin was not evil. Milo rushed to save the human, using one of the remaining healing potions. Meanwhile Sven started slaughtering goblins! The party argued about killing defenseless creatures versus using them as slaves versus freeing them. It was finally agreed upon to kill the goblins but leave the evil humans chained up so that the group could turn them in to the authorities when they returned to town. Milo convinced the group to bring the non-evil human, Keero, along to help fight.

The party kept moving deeper into the tunnels until they opened a room with a large altar and three goblins. The goblin behind the altar addressed them in broken Common, “Good you here! We work together!” Immediately Arabella wanted to talk with this goblin, but before she could squeeze past everyone cramming the five foot corridor ahead of her, Sven blocked the doorway and started insulting the goblin. Sven was quickly answered with two wand blasts that curled fire around and into his armor, leaving him smoldering and unconscious on the floor. Arabella slammed the door closed and revived Sven. The party now had two healing potions left.

Milo was chosen to talk with the goblin. He politely knocked on the door and was invited in. The goblin with the wand was a cleric named Sai. His tribe had been enslaved by an ogre, Rocknar, and Sai wanted the adventurers to kill the ogre. Milo asked what was in it for them. Sai offered to not kill them. After Sven’s experience the party actually considered this not such a bad deal, although it did cross their minds that Rocknar must be pretty tough if Sai didn’t want to handle the ogre himself. Oh well, an unknown danger must be better than a known danger, right? Sai explained how to reach Rocknar’s room, and warned them about a door right next to it which contained Rocknar’s son, Razzlegrin. The party should not, under any circumstances, enter Razzlegrin’s room.

Following the goblin Sai’s directions, the party located the door to Racknar’s room. To the right, the door leading to Razzlegrin’s room caught their curiosity. Why the warnings? Was it a gobliny trick? After Tifa checked Razzlegrin’s door for traps, Sven burst in, setting off a bell alarm that the rogue had failed to notice. The young ogre and three goblins jerked awake and charged the door, blocking entry. Sven tried to bull rush Razzlegrin a couple times, but the ogre just laughed while swatting him back into the hallway. Arabella asked why Sven didn’t just squeeze by the ogre and give the other people a chance. Everyone agreed that was a great idea. Sven managed to get through but was skewered by Razzlegrin’s spear on the way. I guess that answered Arabella’s question, but it did at least allow everyone else to pile into the room. Sven’s body was only lightly trampled – nothing he was going to notice if he ever regained consciousness. It wasn’t as if he was a tracker who could tell halfling and goblin footprints apart. Milo wouldn’t admit it, but he was a little worried about this fight, seeing how swiftly Sven had been dispatched. Kihlgarrah may have also been worried, but his barbaric nature channeled the anxiety into pure rage. Razzlegrin the ogre staggered and fell beneath the relentless swings of the savage Kihlgarrah’s enormous sword. The goblins were no challenge once their leader was down. Another potion was poured down Sven’s throat, leaving the party with a single potion.

The group decided to catch their breath before moving into Rocknar’s room. We shall have to wait to see what awaits them.

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Insatiable Thirst
Haliosi

So much knowledge here. Haloisi thought, creeping along with terror in her throat (Stealth 34.) She respected her host a great deal, but felt that they had already asked and been given too much in return. Too much. To ask for anything more would be insulting, Haloisi knew, and she was certain such insolence would be dealt with in a painful and possibly permanent manner. Mortal heroes could be replaced. Even the Golden Heroes were but mortals, and though Mountain Breeze’s version of events was self centric and tainted with egotistical bias, there was no doubt that the eventual aid of the dragon saw the heroes through their quest. Her beautifully enhanced new spear could easily be given to a mercenary of decent skill and be wielded more effectively than Haloisi could wield it herself.

No, there was no logical choice but to shroud herself in her magic elven cloak and sneak into a place where her trespass could very well mean certain death (Stealth 36, crit.)

What little light trickled forth in this place came only from magical artifacts placed at inconsistent intervals. Haloisi would not dream steal anything from their current patron, but her curiosity demanded that she learn as much as possible from the singular collection of priceless artifacts hoarded by the Her August Majesty, the Silver Dragon Mountain Breeze.

Not that Haloisi would dare venture into the dragon’s true hoard. These were items on the periphery, things the dragon considered baubles. If baubles could ever be the correct way to describe artifacts of major historical events and be worth many times more pieces of gold than Haloisi had ever seen, treasures to mortal men, bards and wizards (Stealth 20.)

Haloisi did not dare extend her meager arcane aura to sense magic for fear she would be perceived immediately. She had not traveled far before she discovered what she sought.

Books.

Haloisi greedily consumed their titles, reaching out a hand as if to touch but never making contact. Her hand mimed stroking their spines as she read each title. Magical tomes whose titles danced blurry across her vision in her hasty perusal that allowed her insufficient time to divine their words. Ancient lost histories; Haloisi’s hands shook as she hovered over those (Stealth 29.)

But the one piece of writing she to which she felt most strongly drawn was a scroll without a title bound with a crumbling wax seal. On the outside of the rolled scroll, under the seal, a skilled hand had drawn a precise depiction of what appeared to be a blade-slender merman clutching a trident as he danced atop a cresting wave. Less precisely drawn around him was a scene of battle, the merman’s enemies tossed backward by water exploding forth from his feet.

Haloisi’s breath caught. What fate had brought her here, to this scroll? Her first suspicious inclination was of a trap. It was too closely associated with her alone. Haloisi had never heard of another waterdancer before; she was self taught, and as far as she knew she was the only one in existence. Part of her willed herself to not touch the scroll. Surely every bit of the dragon’s possessions were warded.

She snatched her hand back (Will 25, crit.) Of course it was warded. Of course it was a trap. Haloisi examined the scroll and area very carefully for traps (8,) but without extending her senses, she frustratingly could not determine a damned thing. Knowledge lingered tantalizingly within her grasp (Will 24) but she dared not reach for it, though she was sorely tempted.

This was a mistake. She should not be here. Haloisi quickly crept back to the approved areas of the lair (Stealth 27.)

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Some Plans Don't Work Out

Deep within the prison, Jorma was nearly blind with anger. He had seen his mercious goblin captors killed. He had inwardly smiled as the humans who killed them had even ruthlessly killed the goblin captives that were here with him. But then that diminutive half man had judged him. Judged him! By what right did he do that!?

Jorma continued to slowly work the weakness in his chains. He would break free. He would break free and take out his anger in revenge against that half man. He would force him to stand in chains. Then we would see who would judge who!

To Jorma’s left, Unto suddenly stiffened and shrieked. A bloody line began to emerge from right to left across his abdomen. Then while Unto screamed in horror and pain, a spectral hand began to draw out his intestines, leaving the man to suffer horribly.

Jorma’s blood drained from his face as he witnessed the brutal act. His rage forgotten as he too began to feel the sharp cut along his abdomen…

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The Goblins Must Go!

This work was more rewarding that Charity had envisioned. The people of Kirin clearly had a need of someone of her leadership and well, to be frank, resources. Charity had been secreting away her stipends from her family’s business for some time. She had originally planned on using it to make a bid to buy her worthless brother’s share of the logging business. But now that she had come to this small village and seen how desperately these people needed her, she was determined to help them. She had sent her newest side interest Sven back to Moonsong city to find, fetch, and draw in the same group of heroes she had used to clear the first part of the prison to help her with this second part.

She hadn’t expected to need them again, but when the goblins started getting more brazen in their raids, she knew it would be important to handle them quickly and ruthlessly. Who better than the group she had employed before? It would keep her from having to travel back to Moonsong away from her newfound people, and she knew they were desperate for some of the cash that she could provide them. She sent Sven with two hundred gold pieces to entice them. It had all gone mostly to plan.

The group had snatched up the advance on the fee to cleanse the goblins. And they had been so eager to set off to do it, they never negotiated for more upon completion of the job. Charity had been careful not to bring it up, hoping that the loot they’d find with the goblins would be enough. Apparently it was.

She was a little disappointed to see Sven go off with him. Oh well, there were certainly more were he came from.

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If Niln had stayed....
Thifal

Thifal popped up awake. The early morning light was just begging to come in. As he gets up the half-healed wounds protest the movement. As he picks up the statue found under Moonsong city, Thifal began to wonder for the first time what he was praying to precisely. Was he praying toward Moradin himself, or was he praying toward the ideals that Moradin represents. Was there a difference? And the undead cleric bothered him. Thifal couldn’t help to wonder. Was the cleric stronger in the energy because he understood what he prayed to better? Or was the god more focused on providing strength to that one battle? Was it a test for the party? They won, but if Niln had stayed….

On that matter, why did she leave. He sits in thought before offering up divine hymns to restore his spell repertoire. With the strength she showed, the walls and defenders would have been worth nothing. There must have been something that would have made her more vulnerable inside or near the walls. But then why wouldn’t it have made the undead giants more vulnerable. At least they were going to meet Mountain Breeze and get some questions answered, although knowing their luck, it will create two or three times as many questions then answers.

Then Thifal remembers.

Flying.

Uhg.

Thifal, as a standard (and some would say respectable) dwarf, never has flown, and has no interest in doing so. Thifal shrugs to himself. He guesses that never flying is the counterpoint to never feeling the issue of claustrophobia that so many humans, elves, and others feel. He just needs to get through a few hours and his feet can be on solid ground again.

Thifal sighs again. They had to do what they have been for the last while, focus on one problem at a time and hope others can solve the other issues. He just hopes that plan isn’t going to backfire soon. Just in Moonsong there still are the issues in the fields around the city, Giles, intercity thug issues, and a goblin infestation being supplied from outside.

As he starts preparing, he thinks he should offer a few more protection spells. For being a bard, Haloisi seems to attract a lot of unwanted attention.

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Aftermath... (Day 1)
Thelonius

Thelonius, after eating a simple meal provided by the generous dwarves, steps out into the area behind the inn to practice his katas. He considers what he has experienced and what he has learned during the day. Ruefully he shakes his head at how much more he has to learn, as demonstrated by the wisdom imparted to him by his Abbott before starting his adventures. Who would have thought that the old man would hide more meanings about finding balance in one simple task! Thelonius can’t help but think his mission will take much longer than he expected.

Moving in slow deliberate motions, he replays the events of the day in his head as he moves from one form to the next. He feels shame at not being strong enough to rescue Darin, but who would have thought they would face an undead dragon! Slipping from one stance to the next smoothly he continues to evaluate what he did and what he should have done. He felt so certain that if he got close enough to the dragon it would not be able to hit him. The stiffness in his movements from his healed wounds reminds him how wrong he was on that count.

As he completes the last kata he repeats them again faster. He considers the others the dwarves introduced him to that day. Each seems very confident in their skills and work well together mostly. Yet each, like him, had their moments of imbalance but like him each found their center when things seemed most dire. He sensed each was uncertain of Thelonius and his place in their group. Each feared how he would disrupt the balance they had established together. For now he would give them their space and assist where he could, mindful of his place.

But the bard presented something Thelonius sought, music! Moving through the katas ever faster, he tried to call up the song she sung in his mind, uncertain of the lyrics since some were muffled by the noise of the battle, he focuses instead on the melody itself. He considers the structure, pace, and pitch, trying to envision how he could use it in his tactics. He begins to match attacks and defenses to the song and hums the melody in accompaniment to his movements. The moves come slowly at first as he imagines how each move must match the song, then as he sees the exact movements to match the melody he moves faster. His actions, accompanied with his humming the song, begin to show success as he works out the last steps. With one last run through, he nods in satisfaction before going to his room to clean up and rest for the journey he faces in the morning.

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We're Gonna Fly
Lyra

We’re gonna fly, we’re gonna fly, we’re gonna fly!

Lyra couldn’t get it out of her head. She was nearly bouncing with anticipation at the prospect. Whenever her mind drifted to thoughts of the trip up North, she caught herself starting to smile unconsciously. The idea of soaring high above the world, free from the grasp of the earth and all it’s drudgery, made her heart beat faster. Her stomach rose into her chest with ideas of the wind whipping through her hair, arms spread wide. Shivers ran down her spine as she closed her eyes and envisioned what the world might look like from so high up.

Maybe it was just the post-battle adrenaline. Fate seemed to have done everything in its power to scare her before the fight with Niln, but it fell flat in actually harming her when the action started. She rubbed her thigh and the the ouroboros tattoo below the clothing, thankful for the wretched dreams for the first time. They had taught her to disappear, a skill that would be most useful in the future. The rest of the party hadn’t been so fortunate. Each and every one of them had been close to death.

Lyra munched on some dry dwarven rations and ale. She didn’t like the flavorless taste of the bread, so she enhanced it with a bit of a magic trick, giving it a slightly sweet flavor. When he wasn’t looking, she did the opposite to Lorran’s meal, making it just a little bitter. It took conscious effort to not giggle. She tried to look casual when he stopped playing his lute to take a bite.

Haloisi had already gone to sleep, somehow managing to finagle a feather mattress from the soldiers. She even got a damn pillow. Fletcher and Thifal had each taken a nasty beating in the battle and had already consigned themselves to sleep. Axiomus was in the corner fondling a caltrop, and Nisa was just as quiet as always and taking a closer look at Beros’ bow.

An idle thought wormed its way into Lyra’s head. Most of the group had already gone to sleep or were busy cleaning their clothing and equipment of the grime of combat. Thelonius the ponderous monk was far too new to have a say in the decision, so Lyra turned to Lorran and asked “Say, we need a team name. Any ideas?”

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A Goddess Holding A Bolt Of Lightning
Haloisi

Haloisi settled comfortably in her bed. The madness was still on her, the sheer vibrant giddiness of having knocked the so called Dread Lady Niln ass over teakettle from her perch atop an undead dragon. The blast of water had been perfect, but unfortunately not enough to separate the staff from its wielder. Whatever had she been thinking? Had she learned nothing on the wall?

When had she abandoned reason for madness? She had been so angry… So angry to see a bold, beautiful bronze dragon murdered and enslaved by that creature of darkness. Her spear had trembled in her white knuckled grasp as she fought the urge to charge the necromancer.

Haloisi rolled in the bed and picked up the spear, examining it for the thousandth time from the comfort of her pillow. It was clearly a rather common magic spear, which she appreciated when it struck true. But on odd occasion, she felt as though she were overlooking something that ought to be familiar when she held it, perhaps a parallel from history that mirrored their own adventures?

She rolled the spear absently in her hand as her eyes drowsed and she turned once more to introspection. She wasn’t anxious. She wasn’t second guessing the days events, nor quaking in fear as she had after facing the undead giants. She was content, cozy in her bed, as if the day’s events were a story from one of her songs. What was different?

Lorran was back. It was as if the universe had deigned reveal its plans for the party, and those plans were in the favor of Haloisi and her companions. Her euphoria shook for a moment as her logical core rebelled against such nonsensical deification of the day’s events. She was going to become as wooden headed as Thelonius, the Monk who had appeared from the blue. He was so far down in Haloisi’s esteem that she did not even bother to consider whether or not he could be trusted. The fool had charged the undead dragon and tried to wrest Darin from his fate. But then, that had been Halosi’s urge as well, though she was bewitched and confused before she could act on it.

The momentary dark cloud passed, and the euphoria returned. Haloisi snuggled in her bed, luxuriating in the feather mattress and pillow. In the back of her mind, she knew the softness of the bed was a carefully and diplomatically avoided insult that none of the dwarven staff would mention given the rising esteem of Haloisi and her party. Their reasoning being that she was a delicate, pale blue skinned elf and couldn’t be expected to be hardy enough to endure a true dwarven bed. Haloisi snuggled in tighter. Hopefully her deeds would not earn her the ‘honor’ of one of those rock slabs of mattresses that Fletcher and Thifal were forced to sleep upon!

Haloisi fell asleep in the cloud of covers, unconsciously clutching her spear as if she were a goddess holding a bolt of lightning.

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