Sunday, August 31, 2008

Runelords D&D: In Retrospect

The following is an in-character journal recollection as written by Shanika, one of the players in my Rise of the Runelords campaign path. She plays the druid Deanda Kamp, and has logged her memories of the events so far as follows...

In Retrospect: a Recollection of a Series of Events.
As written by, and to the best recollection of, Deanda Kemp.

I have not written, prior to this, anything of my thoughts, feelings, hopes, and observations of the ongoings of this group and all that we have gone through. However, we have been through a lot, especially Blayne and me, and I feel it necessary to set things straight, for myself and for the record.

We started out, Blayne and I, on a journey to regain my stolen belongings. We had searched from market to market and had just begun to drift away from the Yondabakari. We were to stop in Sandpoint, just as we had with every small town before it, search the town markets and pawn shops, and continue as we had before. That's when it happened: the goblins attacked. How were we to know what it would lead to? How could we have known what was to come? Blayne has a penchant for murder, no matter how I try to stifle his urges, and I couldn’t really just stand back and let him fight. No. We fought together. But, at some point, it went from just the two of us to three, and then four, and suddenly six heroes. At least, that’s what the villagers acknowledged, and who was I to say any different? Somehow, we were enlisted with this gaggle of many dissimilar “heroes”. We were revered through the town, given thanks and privileges, even discounts!

I had no problem with this. We were kept fed. Blayne was entertained. There was nothing wrong with the bunch of them, nothing exceptional, but nothing wrong. So, we continued with them. Soon I found Blayne would leave me alone with these strangers. Why I felt a pull to stay with them, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to understand, but I did.

I will take a moment to step back from my reflection upon the events to state my initial reactions to each of these new characters, these heroes of Sandpoint, my new ‘friends’.

The first notable character, Kiikii Jiikii, one of the many magic users of the world, struck me on first appearance as nothing more than another human. A magician, just like the rest of them, that’s what he was to me. I should probably state that, unless proven otherwise, any magic-using human, is simply nothing more than a magician if you ask me. Nothing special. It didn’t take long for Kiikii to show that he isn’t just like the rest of them. He has a young soul, a cheery disposition, and a warm presence about him. Above all else, I couldn’t help but notice his connection to nature and the Goddess Desna. Whether he acknowledges it as being drawn to her or not, Kiikii’s obsession with Desna’s creatures is an obvious sign that She has touched him.

On the subject of Desna, we move on to the bard: Jaime. A bit of a flake if you ask me, Jaime reinvented himself halfway through our adventures, but that is for later. At first meeting, Jaime was a bard that simply refused to stop his incessant singing and general loudmouth behavior. He was not too unlike some of those bards the Varisian gypsies would encounter throughout my travels with them. I would not be surprised if this was, in fact, not the first time Jaime’s path had crossed mine. But I don’t believe I would have paid him any mind if I were not being put with him in a close circle such as the one I am describing now. My original assessment of this Jaime person was not too distinct beyond that of his similarities to the gypsies’ encounters, thus it was no surprise to me when he, from time to time, would not be anywhere to be found. Performers are flakes; it’s simply how the world works.

In contrast to the formerly mentioned party members’ personalities, the seemingly rigid and cold Nakor was everything the other two were not. To be honest, even in this setting, where he posed no threat to Blayne or me, and gave what seemed to be his version of friendly tidings, I was wary of him. I read from him no vibes of evil or malicious intent, simply his standoffish and pompous nature. It gave me a sense that he was one of those many humans that hold their head, and nose, high above those they do not approve of, and more often than not, Blayne and I are certainly in that category. I’ve never liked that sort, those that judge others based on their own laws and morals. We’ve never quite seen eye to eye, regardless of their approval of my ways. Nakor, though, proved very difficult to read. He never really proved my assumptions by action nor by his words, but neither did he ever really show any real connection to anyone. At this point I had resigned to decide, as far as other people are concerned, he either dislikes them or he couldn’t care less about them. Though I thought it a sad way to go about one’s journeys, I couldn’t say I can’t relate.

The last of the faces among these heroes was the valiant young half breed, Slavla. A mighty force in combat, yet disastrously feeble minded, this young barbarian was one of few individuals to catch my eye prior to the goblin onslaught. Obviously of Elven descent, and thus an intriguing character in my eyes, Slavla proved to be nothing I expected. On first glance, he is a generally good looking individual, the strong fighter type. However, once he opens his mouth, one loses hope for our race. The poor child has the intelligence lower than the frogmen’s lizard steeds. As slow as he may be, he is a force to be reckoned with, and I am glad Blayne didn’t even have a chance to attempt to pick his pockets. Goodness, that surely would have been trouble, even though the poor sap may have been too slow to have even noticed.

These four men were, along with Blayne and me, the victorious and honorable heroes of Sandpoint. They’re the kind they tell stories about. I seem to be dwelling on this, yes? The ‘heroes’ bit? I have my reasons for doubting the validity of such a title. After all, the goblins have heroes too, do they not? So who is the real hero here? But that’s a discussion for another time, another day, and another crowd. Back to the point…

The goblins were apparently linked to something bigger, so we were soon enlisted. Blayne seemed to always be elsewhere when I was with the group, which was unnerving for me. He should’ve known that… I coped with it though. I felt a pull to help their cause even though I felt so alone in doing so. We tracked the attacks to a Quasit, a formidable one, by the name of Erylium. We drowned her in her own little pool and took care of her Sinspawn creatures as well. But of course, as these things go, that wasn’t the end of the trail. There were also the Nualia and Tsuto characters to deal with and the goblins at Thistletop - a maze of links in a puzzle that seemed to never end; one face behind yet another evil mask, one after another, after another, after another…

Tracking down the face of the monsters behind this plot lead to one man, if he can be called such, Malfeshnakor. This being, as it turns, is one and the same with the creature that killed our Jaime’s dear old dad many years ago. We found him in an ancient chamber amidst the dungeons of Thistletop. Unfortunately, it was we who freed him of this chamber. Yet another link in the puzzle, we gathered that his next stop was Magnimar, Nakor’s home, and our next destination.

I have, in retelling these events, left out one crucial point in the story. I am, at heart, an emotional being, and though I do not show zealous emotion often, I am very sensitive when it comes to those I hold dear. Let us be honest, I do not grow attached to people forthwith. No, on the contrary, I am more inclined to be quite the listless soul. However, as of late, in the midst of these events, an individual crossed our path that has brought out the more poignant side of my persona. (In a stroke of irony, taken out of context, that statement might just be the sort of reaction that particular individual would love to have heard.)

A man, by the name of Aldern Foxglove, once justly described by Nakor as a fop, was the first person we all encountered as a group. A pathetic sort of being, we found him allowing his dog to sacrifice herself for his sake while he hid from the goblins. We saved him. I will never cease to regret that. He, just like most humans I have ever encountered, went unnoticed. His passes were nothing new, humankind seems to have a penchant for Elvin beauty; I was very blasé about it. “Let him have his fun”, I thought. No harm in a few compliments. I am, after all, a woman and enjoy compliments just as much as the next girl. How wrong I was.

This worthless piece of scum was the next villain in our travels, a serial killer of those whose hearts he saw to be consumed in greed. He left letters for me on his victims, proclaiming his love and telling, in riddles and ambiguity, of what he had planned for me. And then it happened. I had been noticing for some time, Blayne’s absence, but I could always feel him near. I knew he was safe, until suddenly, he wasn’t. I knew he was next. “The Hunter”? How incognito did he think that was? Or did he mean for it to be obvious? Anyone who targets the greedy, of course, has Blayne on their list, but to add to the fact that this crazed killer has an unhealthy obsession with me, the jealousy factor kicks in, and Blayne is slated for death.

It was only a matter of time before he turned up and I knew it. We found him, after an excruciating expedition through Foxglove Manor, in the lower chambers. Aldern was there, smiling, as if someone were glad to see him. I was enraged. The sight before my eyes was one that I never wish anyone to endure, not even Foxglove himself, no matter how much he may deserve such a fate. There, upon the wall, with no jaw, crudely carved into, a bloody massacre if there ever was one, my best friend hung. I wanted nothing more than to summon every amount of strength within me and make the world feel the pain that overcame me. I was to the point of tears, a flame lit in my hand, I fought, I tore at Foxglove with all my might. We overcame him, and though I felt it didn’t justify what I felt inside, I took Blayne from the wall and we evacuated. The house was tearing itself apart. I couldn’t leave him in that; I couldn’t abandon him.

Our next stop, still Magnimar, became the site where my hope would lie. I had the local priests preserve Blayne’s body. I prayed for Desna to keep his soul near me. I would not lose him. Would. Not. We left for Magnimar and searched for a reincarnation scroll to bring my dearest friend back to my side. With Nakor’s knowledge of the area, I was confident it wouldn’t be too hard to track down. Thanks to the treasures we had come upon throughout our adventure, the scroll, which was no small expense, was soon mine. Blayne’s poor tattered body held up through the trip, but it wasn’t whole, it wasn’t him. I set out to find a new host body for him, one I knew he would enjoy. I chose his favorite animal: a flying squirrel. The scroll was not too difficult of a spell for me, thank goodness, and I was soon in a world beyond our own, one of emptiness and despair. Souls numbering upwards of several million were stacked upon each other in the form of a wall stretching in all directions, each graying, faceless, soul indecipherable - no different than any other among them, save one; it was him. Blayne’s soul, or at least a part of it, was fixed within the mass of souls, but before I could reach out to him, I was being pulled, drawn away. I stopped at a familiar site, a pier, not unlike those along the Yondabakari, and Blayne, fishing. He was catching nothing, which was quite unusual for him, but he kept at it anyway, just as he always did. I brought him back with me, back to his new body, back to my side. He’s back where he belongs and will stay there for a long time. I refuse to let him be stolen away again.

The other encounter I have failed to mention, as of yet, is that of the meeting of Jenkin. A beautiful Storm Roc, Jenkin is the noble creature that answered my call when I, as many Druids do, felt it time to find an animal companion. I had felt Blayne’s absence for some time, and though he was still around (this was before his murder), I was lonely in the sea of new faces. I called to Mother Nature to send me a companion, the souls with whom I could connect, a true friend. Jenkin flew to my side and proved to be that faithful companion which I sought. Though his wit matched that of Slavla’s, Jenkin was the friend I needed at that time. He was a valiant fighter and a loving companion. He had so much promise, and I am truly saddened that he, too, was stolen from my side.

After our arrival to Magnimar, we wasted no time in finding the next link in the chain.

We ventured to Foxglove’s home in Magnimar and were greeted by none other than the wretch himself. And what joy, might I say, it brought me to watch him die all over again. Granted, it was not Foxglove himself, no, but I was pleased nonetheless. Two faceless stalkers had apparently taken over the lives of Aldern and his wife, Iesha, and were simply waiting for visitors. I’m not sure we were exactly the type of company they had hoped for, but no matter, they’re dead now. Within that hollow wreck of a home we found our trail once more.

We were fishing for something, new answers to questions I had never known. Somehow, even when I felt there was no way for us to continue following each lead, we would find another hint. We found, in the Foxglove house, strong ties to the Brothers of the Seven which brought us to their sawmill. We tracked down and killed the cult leader of these ‘skinsaw’ blokes. As it turns, he is of some importance to this city, a justice, I am told. Unfortunately, as these things always work out, it wasn’t the end. He wasn’t the big boss. We traced the group to a woman named Xanesha.

Another way of the world: there will always be a giant, gruesome, hideous, horrifying, unintelligent, unnecessarily strong beast between the ‘heroes’ and the ‘villain boss’. This is no different in our case. Upon our arrival to the emptied Irespan we encountered a frightfully huge flesh golem. We fought, pointlessly, valiantly, and for what felt like forever. I took hit after hit. And then the cowards began to leave. First, the cleric, who actually could have been of use, fled mid-battle. Jaime was gone, and I will not soon forget how he abandoned us. Next the sorry little dwarf, whom my hopes for were already no higher than his own small stature, showed me just how much faith in dwarves can actually be justified: as I thought, none. These two have made me begin to lose hope in this group, however, there is still hope in them.

As we fought on, I knew death was imminent. As Slavla was knocked away, the golem turned. I turned from him, but I knew Pharasma’s hand was at play. My fate was sealed and I was no longer in the Irespan. I was in the same sort of realm I had found Blayne, but much more pleasant. I could feel the warmth of Desna flowing through my spirit and could sense the caring, watchful eyes of Pharasma overseeing my every step. This sensation did not last long. Soon I felt Pharasma’s hand and Desna’s gentle pull, along with an unfamiliar godly presence I have since realized must have been Nethys, turning me towards a familiar visage. It was Nakor, accompanied by a very old man of the cloth. I walked towards them and was soon back in a more earthy realm. I was alive again.

I was told of Nakor’s noble efforts after my demise. He has earned himself a friend in me and is the one person in this group I turn to if I have need. Kiikii, too, has earned my respect and friendship. Between these two, I still have hope in what this group has to offer. The others may grow into more worthy souls in time, but for the time being, I am not impressed.

After my revival, we did not take long to get back into the swing of things. We found Xanesha, but not without loss. Faceless stalkers hiding within the clock tower, playing their tricks, dropped bells aiming for our lives. They hit someone. Jenkin was dead. I had lost yet another friend. It was a sad time, but we had to move on. We soon found the Lamia Matriarch known as Xanesha and took her down. After her death I scrounged through the debris and rubble for Jenkin’s remains. I gave him a decent burial. It will be some time before I search for a new companion. For now, this adventure continues.

It has been about five months since these occurrences. Since the mayor’s party and all of the extravagance, I have remained in Sandpoint leaving only for short periods. I have seen these companions here and there every so often. It has been quiet. I feel as this is going to change soon. I am certain Pharasma has planned a finish to this adventure to suit her wishes. We shall see…

No comments: