Sea of Madness

Book of Nod
Page Thirty-Two

As I return my Eladrin ward back to her family there are two things that are on my mind, both disparate ideas. One, I think Cassius is a nicer fellow than I’d given him credit for. As we were rescuing the maiden he seemed to take a particular interest in her care and well being. I can’t say for certain whether or not it was his hormones were getting the best for him, but his consideration was genuine and for that I give him his due.

Have I mentioned we’ve gone back to killing the Troll King?

The second is my thoughts drifting back to Kun-We. What precisely has happened to his body concerns me a great deal. The first circumstance is that somehow the body was stolen, by Sinel, or one of his crew in which case I am to understand that he’s going to be pumping the body for information by means via a ritual. Alternatively, it could be used as a weapon against us, and quite frankly, I do not wish to see a large Bugbear hurtling towards us, most specifically Kun-We. While we hadn’t exactly departed on the best terms, I feel that after death, those terms could be largely skewed and rather unfavorable towards me.

I also have not forgotten about his sudden and rather unlikely resurrection months back. It disturbed me then, and it’s disturbance has not left me since. Perhaps I’m the only one sensitive to these things. Funny, actually, how I’m not bothered by Drown.

I think we should pick up a bride for Cassius while we’re here. I think some stability would do him some good—-

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Vistin's Journal
Trolls!

Trolls! Trolls, gentle reader. I have outwitted and evaded the finest mercenaries across the Shadowfell and Ishar, slain dukes and kings, done battle with great wizards, and killed dragons, and now here I am, trapped in the Feywild, killing trolls in a swamp.

The course of our adventure led us to the seat of the local troll king, an insipid, wretched little creature with a great apparent love of fortifications but little love for engineering or architecture. Also, he has very sharp ears. Our task was to rescue an Eladrin lass from him, but of course we never saw the girl. We negotiated with him briefly, agreeing to kill his brother for him as a sign of good faith. By a strange coincidence, another potential course of action set before us was to learn this small troll’s weakness from his brother, thereby unseating him from his throne. In a rare and welcome display of cruel cunning, the party has opted to simply do both.

After locating the brother of the current troll king, who happens to also be the deposed, former troll king, we plied him with promises of aid and learned that his brother’s secret weakness is the same as any king’s: If we can turn his people against him, he will be powerless. Since this is the Feywild, I presume this will manifest in some more or less literal way, but it was certainly worth asking in case it had turned out to be moonwort picked on a certain day or some similar nonsense.

Learning this, we provoked him a bit, but received only thrown boulders for our trouble. After retreating to a safe distance in a failed attempt to draw him out, we decided to approach his bridge (did I mention he was a bridge troll, reader? Yes, he was a bridge troll. These things happen in the Feywild, you must understand) from above, rather than beneath. I shadowed Nod as he approached from the top, which proved fortuitous as the troll noticed him and swung up to attack him. The wizard and I gave him far more trouble than he expected, and the rest of the party soon arrived to help finish the job, so now we have his (giant, incredibly heavy, petrified) head, as well as the secret he was guarding.

We have also met some celestial Eladrin, one tribe echoing the sun and one the moon. They were a welcome surprise! The sun Eladrin are a brave and proud race, unashamed of bold deeds and welcoming of challenges. The moon Eladrin are quiet and reserved, but seem cunning and merciless. Light seems to increase or decrease around them, but whether it is being bent to their will or whether it is the land reacting to their presence, or if there is some even stranger explanation, I have no idea. I enjoyed meeting them both. It is good to know there are still some pleasant surprises left in the world.

Each challenge we face seems to split off into more and more obstacles and our tasks multiply before us. I fear it may be some time before we escape this plane, but at least we have found some tolerable people here.

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From the Journal of Cassius Wolfslayer
Page 30

We sailed for the waterfall that Linny directed us towards. It was afternoon when we found it,and it was one of the most spectacular things I’ve seen in my life. Fire cascaded down a massive rock face. Smaller rivulets of liquid flame scattered off the rocks and disappeared into nothing. We had a few hours until sunset,and so most just busied themselves,but I found myself hypnotized by the spectacle. We were preparing to enter the realm of the Fey; what lay in store for us would be totally different from anything we have ever known. Even Nod,who is from a completely different realm then the one we are entering,will be out of his element.

I could feel the pull even then, while still waiting on the boat. There was a thrum in the back of my head as the Feywild called to me. The magic that I control flows from the Feywild,and being so close to the source of my power was making me dizzy with excitement.

Sunset came and the molten flame transformed into a waterfall. Not wasting any time,we sailed through and found ourselves in a sea of stars. The water perfectly reflected the night sky above us. We watched as stars winked out, appeared from nowhere and danced in the sky. It was a small taste of how the workings of this world are very different from what we know.

We sailed to the largest of the three islands; the one that has no ruler. We were hoping that amongst the various factions, communities,and miscellaneous groups warring for survival we could find some allies to help us defeat Synelle. Things took a surprise turn when within moments of docking the ship,the Cortadormar begin to take on water. The ship was rapidly deteriorating. Nod and I deduced that it must be related to the Meloran artifacts. Powerful mortal magic and the magic of the Feywild do not mixvery well. The ship itself,being comprised of mundane materials,could not withstand the stresses being placed on it by the clash of two very different, overwhelmingly powerful magicks. The town we were in was populated solely with Eladrin. We were able to convince some of them to help us haul the ship up onto the beach before it sank. We learned from some of the Eladrin gathered that there was a shipwright on the other side of town that we could visit with in the morning. We all hoped that he could repair the ship; but in the meantime,Captain Suldren,Nod, our three new friends,Ishahotep, Drown,and Vistin,and I all made our way to the inn. Linny,Sam, and the few remaining crew stayed with the ship.

The Eladrin that ran the inn greeted us kindly,one of the few at that point in town who did not immediately seem to dislike us, although she was understandably on guard when she saw Drown. Although we could have paid in gold,we decided to pay for our rooms with a favor. When in the Feywild,do as the fey do. Nod and I spoke at length with our hostess until morning. It was a test of willpower to stay awake all night, even with all the excitement I was feeling,but I had to make sure Nod did not doom us all.

The next morning we visited the shipwright,who was happy to help us repair the ship if we fetched the necessary materials for him. We also struck an agreement where we would fetch some crystals for him. In exchange he agreed to actually enhance the ship. There’s only the small matter of the dangerous creatures that have infested the mine. Weren’t we supposed to be finding allies to help with our fight? Between the innkeeper and the shipwright,we were starting to get a good understanding of what to expect from the various areas of the island.

We went back to the inn to perform some tasks for our hostess. I drew garden duty. Potatoes were much easier. These plants required blood instead of water for sustenance. Some of the others were able to get a bucket of blood from the market for me. So I didn’t need to try and talk everyone into donating a little blood to a communal bucket… or go hunting. Hunting on my own in the Feywild was as appealing as appointing Nod the ship’s diplomat.

When we spoke with the shipwright,he had also pointed us toward the de facto leader of the town. The mayor was in need of the assistance of stalwart adventurers assembled in a motley crew journeying in an alien dimension. Thank goodness none of the other groups fitting that description beat us to him.

As it turns out,the town’s leader has a daughter who was kidnapped by trolls… their king to be specific. Realizing that a young Eladrin girl in the clutches of a troll king was somewhat more pressing than holes in a hull,we set out for the swamp where the trolls congregate. Along our journey we learned to avoid tall grasses growing near running water when those grasses lashed out at us. Strange,scary plants aside; we found the swamp and soon found us some trolls

The small band of large trolls was handily dispatched and as I write this now I am sitting on the shoulder of a rather large specimen catching my breath. The things stink of the fetid odor of the swamp,and yet,they seem to smell even worse than the swamp itself. Maybe it’s the fact that we had to burn so much of their flesh to kill them.

I hate trolls. And we have so many more of them to kill.

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Story of a Dead Man 2

My short life has taken a dark turn. A week ago, Captain Lee and his crew dredged my body out of the sea. I didn’t know who I was, only how I had gotten there. I was murdered. The captains mystic Linny said I was a Revenant. That for some reason I had my soul put back in my body to do something. They couldn’t tell me what, but they did say my appearance was a omen of death. Turns out they were right. Later that week the ship was attacked. Some spineless pirate named Synelle raided in the middle of the night looking for something. We were overrun. Things looked bleak until the rest of the crew arrived, and let me tell you, the Daggers, as Lee called them are something else. These men fight like demons. The raiders were being frozen solid, broken by blade and hammer and tossed about like ash on the wind. Things were looking good until that foul Synelle joined the fight. You see, Synelle doesn’t fight fair. He uses magic with his sword play, the coward. We were no match for him. If he hadn’t gone yellow after taking a few minor cuts he might have killed us all. Instead he fled, or at least that’s what the Daggers told me when they brought me back to consciousness. They were all a little creeped out by me, all except this one guy named Vistan. He seemed real interested in me. He’s a Shadar-Kai.He smelled like death. Have to say, for now I think he might be the only one I can trust completely. Anyway, it was shortly after Vistan helped me up that the omen I carried became apparent. The first mate Sam told us that Captain Lee was dead. Syenelle had killed him. I was mad, furious even. The man that had pulled me out of the water and given me safe passage on his boat was dead and I was deaths greeting card. Fate is a sick bitch. But that’s ok, cause fate brought me back with a purpose and I think I know what it is. I think I’m here to kill Synelle and you know what? Even if that isn’t my reason for being here, I’m going to do it anyway. Synelle picked the wrong albatross to shot down and he’s gonna pay.

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Book of Nod, Page Twenty-Eight

The events of today are still darkened by the loss of our comrade. More still, by being bested by Synelle. He too has come to claim the Meloran artifact, and while it does please me to have an Eladrin rival, I do not care to lost by doing all the dirty work for him. We shall claim it from him. At least I imagine so.

We have come across an innocuous fellow, who was being held prisoner by the Jinah. While he seems amiable he seems to have delved into shadow magic. Those people who have the gift of shadow magic are those who know the true cost of power. They have damaged their very soul, perhaps even poisoned it. However, this power is not inherently evil, it depends on the person wielding it. I have no qualms with aiding him, however, should he wish to say, this might be problematic. I debate whether to inform Suldren or not. I’d hate to cause unnecessary trouble for him, especially since I can’t see him wanting to go anywhere but his own way. I don’t see any of the values in him thus far that Suldren finds so precious. I shall keep an eye…

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Vistin's Journal
Thus I dwell...

Things are not going well. I am being held prisoner under a mountain in the middle of this godsforsaken desert, have been here for several days (I could not say, gentle reader, just how many), and have only just been able to obtain paper and writing supplies. This was not the plan.

The idiots who accompanied me are all dead or as good as dead. “Famed adventurers” my foot. I haven’t met an adventurer worth my time in more than twenty years, but needs must. If this artifact is as powerful as the stories say it is, then there’s no reason it should be left out in these wastes for just anyone to find. Particularly if someone has already found it, and especially, especially, my dear reader, if those people are Jinah.

Still, this is hardly the worst situation I have ever been in. This cage is smaller than my accommodations in the gladiator pits, true, but I am left alone for the most part. I have not yet been compelled to fight anyone to the death. And Ithyk (or, more importantly, dear reader, his smell) is not in here with me. There are wizards who have madly cast aside their destinies to ensconce their souls in crude wooden forms, yes, and there are huge beasts that know and well love the taste of men and elves, certainly, and also I am in a cage with no weapon or armor or any of the baubles and small treasures I had accumulated in my travels, but it is dry and cool and I have paper, quill, and ink and I have been fed at least four times, so it could be much worse.

The problem before me is twofold: First, I must escape in a suitably dashing and spectacular manner. Easily accomplished, of course, but the second part of the problem is the more difficult. Once freed, I must locate this artifact and quit this cave without being killed by the several Jinah, their many pets, or any of their insidious traps. My hope is that the Raven Queen will smile on me, as an agent of destiny surrounded by heretics who would deny her her reckoning, and provide me with some means. Otherwise, though hate to contemplate the possibility, I will be forced to escape alone and empty-handed, without the prize I came for, without even (if you can stand the thought, gentle reader, which I very nearly cannot) my khopesh, the truest and most faithful of my companions, navigate the deep desert alone, and return to Ishar to take on supplies and additional fools. A grim prospect, but hopefully one I will not have to consider much longer.

For now, I can only wait.

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From the Journal of Cassius Wolfslayer
Page Twenty-Six

The Captain and Sam spoke with us privately… the remaining Daggers… and told us of the location of another relic. They were speaking of one of the relics of Melora, of which we already have a few. This one is buried in a cave somewhere in the deserts of Ishar. Ishar! I read tales of the arid land of Ishar as a child, but never thought I would ever travel the sandy desert myself. My first feeling was one of excitement, the thrill of adventuring in this far off land. Then I thought about the descriptions of the place, and of what those who had lived there said of it. At that moment I realized that maybe this particular quest would not be as much fun as some of the stories would lead one to believe.

After coming upon the shore we began trying to orient ourselves using the archaic map that Sam had discovered. As we traversed the desert sands, making our way further and further from the sea, we found that this place was more unforgiving than anything we have encountered before. The days were hot, dry, and the sand whipped at our faces as it was blown up by the wind. At night the temperature dropped drastically, and it was all we could do to stay warm.

A few days of travel and we nearly became a meal for some massive, subterranean worm. It came up to the surface and we dove for cover just in time. We even managed to hide Suldren. The monster was a good distance away, but it still shook the ground we were on and I could feel its roar vibrate in my chest. I never read about that one in any of my books! Later, we encountered these elemental creatures, made of living air, that floated a little above the ground and rode the wind currents across the desert. We avoided them that first day, but more happened to find us when we settled down for the night a couple days later. The sand they carried in their whirling bodies blew around with the strength to grate flesh off of bone. Despite that, we managed to dispatch them easily enough.

Another couple of days and we found a group of merchants. We spotted their camp in the night and investigated. The merchants were not too friendly, but they had an extra hired guard who could speak our language and seemed to take sympathy on our seemingly ill-fated mission. He is a little long-winded, but seems a decent fellow. Sehanine knows we could use the help of a local. He first guided us to an indigenous tribe that traded with us for some supplies. Then, with his help, we found the cave which should house the Meloran artifact we seek. The cave once was the home of a large, powerful dragon. The dragon diverted the course of the river to make his home more suitable. The effect of diverting the river is readily apparent on the land we see around us.

We now are inside the cave, and are not the only ones here. After Nod and I took out some traps and guided the group through the entrance, we found some explorers who did not fair against the traps as well as we did. They posed no threat to us being as dead as they were. Others we found though, were quite a threat. They once were living, breathing people, but they have changed themselves into some manner of construct. Our new friend’s former tribe was destroyed by these things, but we all got a bit of revenge for him. They have all been dispatched and we are now taking some moments to rest before deciding which way to proceed. I should finish writing this before Kun-We gets any more frustrated. He seems to be losing his patience with the sound of me writing.

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Book of Nod
In the interrum

As I write these words down they are the words of a fae who is free of that blasted collar and free finally of my honest words. These words, however, are bitter sweet, having gained my freedom and lost a dear friend. Perhaps I should start from the beginning.

Nights ago Talmud came to me to play chess, as we regularly do. He kept smiling at me knowingly as we played and I must admit I was terribly confused. I thought he had some strategy in mind for the game, but it had nothing to do with it.

“I’m going to free you of that collar tonight…” the smile remained umoved on his face.

I had simply gawked at him, not speaking, not moving, with an increasing horrible weight in the pit of my stomach. Yes, he had said the words, but I did not believe him. Could my punishment be over? I struggled with it. I’d been struggling with it for so long to finally be free of this prison of the soul seemed impossible. Finally, as I saw concern upon his face, I spoke.

“You do realize that once this is off I will have to bring the Governor to the compass? I will not be able to stop myself.”

He gave an assured smile, which, I must admit he had developed into a fine art form. “I will help you do it.” he nodded approvingly and moved his bishop.

I begin to think I was developing my slack jaw into a fine art form. I stared at him again, trying to make sure this was still the Talmud I knew. His broad grinning face gave me what I needed to know.

“I do not understand,” I said almost feverishly.

“I have been thinking alot on it, this isn’t something I’m doing lightly. You’ve been with us all for quite some time now. Back when I had—- back when Sam had led you all to escape and left me behind I saw true darkness for the first time in my life. But you all returned for me, brought me back, but not whole. When I saw you all leaving, i asked myself what I had been doing all this time, and what for? Wouldn’t they die with me because I fought so hard for them? I asked you, after that, to watch my back. You agreed. But it wasn’t that you just said the words, you smiled in a way like you were glad I asked. At that point I trusted you. I trust you now. As part of an oathcircle with you we shall be brothers forevermore. I have seen you fight with us and I know you wish none of us ill, in fact I know you want the best for the daggers at heart. Though I have more insight than the rest do as to your character, I still don’t understand why you have to do it, I just understand that you do. That is why I will help you, that’s why I’m gonna take that damn thing off.”

My head flooded with vibrance and wonder again, color searing my vision and joy and panicked mad laughter left my lips. It had taken Talmud aback but soon order had worked it’s way back into my mind. At which point he said he wanted to enter into another pact, replacing the first one we had made. “promise, on my life, to take no actions out of sight of one of the Daggers without first telling two of the other daggers about said action.”

At that point, we discussed plans to bring a certain someone on the ship.

I must say, the first part of the plan went off remarkably well, which I suppose explains why it was Vuden who first saw me sneak onto the ship. I saw the two sticks that represent his brain saw together and ignite in sudden recognition. Vuden barreling towards me, not something I was prepared for, though Talmud had the initiative for improvisation. He intercepted his charge and counter-barrelled (did I just make that up?) into Vuden striking down low, and taking down his momentum. Linny at that point had joined in the fray and aided Talmud in keeping Vuden restrained. Slightly baffled at what to do, I saw Talmud look up at me, I nodded back at him, time to finish this mission.

The next day we had found Vuden gone, his belongings packed, a note next to his empty chest. I will say this about Vuden, while he is a stubborn angry short-sighted individual, I certainly repect his decision to not murder me. It gives me one less reason to lock my door. Truly, though, Vuden has made, what I feel is a respectful decision, perhaps he just needs time to cool his heels. While I don’t imagine he shall be returning any time soon on my account, I would certainly enjoy his company again should he return. Of course this bars any overbearing unending feelings of hatred on his behalf.

This of course brings me to my least favorite part of this entry, Talmud’s departure. He had declaired it at dinner, simple as that. I at that point lost my appetite. Cassius had given me a death stare across the table, fork upright. It was quite convincing considering his ridiculous hat. I don’t think Suldren cared for me much at that point either, but at least he had the table manners to politely finish his squab. The other daggers seemed to take the news better than I and feasted and drank. While I at least drank and sang chanties with them, I knew that Talmud would be gone, and this moment would stay with me. I felt like I had let him down tremendously, that by being his friend I had caused him misery. I wished that woe upon noone and while I desperately felt that I should go with him, perhaps that wouldn’t be best for him.

I watched him leave. I was now free and I was now alone.

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Kun-We gathers his thoughts...
...in the desert

Vuden and Talmud have left the crew, and Nod has been freed of his collar. The collar, of course, did not prevent him from kidnapping the mayor of Lurd to deliver him to the compass, so perhaps its loss is no great thing.

Vuden was a stalwart and loyal ally, and the most reasonable of our group. Talmud was a rock; reliable and solid, even if I did not always trust his judgment, particularly when it comes to Nod. Both were fierce in battle, and without them, we are diminished.

Nod’s behavior is becoming erratic again, but Captain Lee seems to tolerate it, for some reason. Out of respect for his command, I have stayed my blades for now. Still, this will by my last adventure with his crew. Perhaps the power they steal from Melora’s trinkets will preserve them, but Nod seems poised to doom the crew with his inconstancy. If it amuses the captain to tolerate his disloyalty, that is the captain’s business, and the crew’s to follow him if they wish. I have sworn no such oath.

We arrived some days ago at the great port of Ishar, and set out almost immediately into the deep desert. A Meloran artifact is said to lie buried beneath a mountain in the dunes. The travel has been difficult, but we have taken a native guide and seem to be close to our goal. Once the prize is taken and we return, I will take my leave of the Cotadormar and seek a new path in Ishar.

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Suldren's Journal

Our group has been considerably weakened over the last two days. This fact doesn’t pain me as much as the nagging feeling that had I handled things differently we’d still be a group of six instead of four. I wish Vuden and Talmud the best in their travels and will pray that the Platinum One will look over them and that they may rejoin us in the future. But I must prepare for the worst and act as though they shall never return.
While the remaining Daggers have certainly grown in strength and reputation, I hardly feel the four of us will be as effective until we recruit new members. But how can that work well? How can we trust any recruit? Just as important, how can we get them to trust us? Especially when the truth of how our last two members left comes to light. Or even more of a worry, what should happen if the truth of my past comes to light? If that happens I won’t be sure there will even be a group left worthy of calling Daggers.
I shall push these worrisome thoughts from my mind for now, not because I want to but because I must. If I am going to rebuild our group while continuing to serve our Captain I need to be at my best. I shall pray that my past stays just that and hopefully we shall find other men of strength and character to join us on our travels.

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