Xander has been a strange character to play. I originally had a completely different plan for how he would progress, and what I planned to make of the character. That seems to be the way of games though, at least good ones. They always make the character grow from the story, not the stats. In the religion box on my character sheet from level one, I have had Desna written in as his deity. Not because I ever expected to have any divine casting or such, but just because it seemed like the one that fit. Just lately, I had to choose a new feat. I looked through everything, and realized that I had all the combat potential I needed, and most of the feats are either combat or skill bonuses. I finally figured out that I was going to take Deific Obedience-Desna, and that also prompted him to take the Evangelist prestige class, based on his resolution that he was likely to die, an attempt to make peace with it, and reach for something beyond in the afterlife. This entry takes place in the 3 weeks between the return from Runeforge, and the start of the journey north to look for the ancient city. This one is kind of long, there have been a couple games and a lot of life since my last post.
Twelve hours out of Runeforge.
So. I suppose I am writing these in order for someone to understand what happens, has happened, will happen. We seem to be the center of a maelstrom, and I only hope that it doesn’t grow to sweep over all of Varisia.
Runeforge… that happened. I still don’t know what the ramifications are of that rune on Glenn’s forehead. And from the guy who shared a room with Zutha for a while, that’s saying something. But everyone seems to be ok, and we have the weapons that we think will help to destroy Karzoug. I still don’t know why you even bothered to make one for yourself, it’s not like you need anything else with me here. At least you were smart enough to keep it to a bow, even if the insult is nearly unbearable to begin with. Shut up. I have enough to get straight without your complaining. After all the times I… SHUT UP!
Anyways, as I was saying, we made it into and out of Runeforge, and think we got what we needed. We also got several dozen refugees, most of which seem to be the original Azlanti peoples from the time of Aroden’s mortality. Who knows what kind of backlash that will bring, but we couldn’t just leave them there. At least they have a community and a life outside of their fishbowl. Those refugees came out of a ten-thousand year stint as fish in a magelords private tank into a world that they have no experience with, in the dead of winter, homeless and penniless. Now they have food, a swath of farmland they can work in the coming season, and houses to keep them close together until they can learn the language and the area. If we die there, at least I can stand in the Boneyard and say that I did something to help people who needed it.
36 hours out of Runeforge:
I found my way to the temple of Desna that evening, and for the first time in a long while, I prayed. I am walking into death’s arms by my own reckoning not a month hence, and there were things that I needed to get off my chest. Oddly, I felt no better. It lessened the weight on my heart not at all. I took myself back out to the farmsteads where the refugees are staying. Magical travel definitely has its perks, the several days saved traveling back and forth can be used for research and helping to get things settled. After talking to the couple who spoke Thassilonian, I found that they were as well as could be in this short time. Letting them know that I would be back each day until the supplies were delivered, I headed back home. Home. For the longest time I hated it, and now that I have come to love and miss it, I expect to leave it possibly forever.
I stopped, and fell to my knees in the fields, miles from anyone. I had finally gotten the adventure I had been seeking for my entire life, and now that I know what it is, I found I didn’t want it at all. Me to stand between Karzoug and the masses? Osanna, I can understand. Glenn has jumped in front of most of us so many times that I have reserved a daily allotment of spells for him. Samael even. Bill is looking for vengeance for his brother. Naru is doing what she thinks will protect the lands. But myself, I am here only because of a string of bad luck and a madman’s curse.
I slumped on the wet ground, loathe to get up again. After a time, it seemed I could hear faint music. I looked around, but could see nothing. The music became more insistent, though it remained faint. I stood, and started off to look for the source, but it seemed to keep changing, each time I started off in its direction it would quickly shift the point of origin. I don’t know how long I spun in circles there in that field, but when I realized the music had stopped, I looked around. There in the snow, I saw something. I had passed back and forth over that ground repeatedly, my steps clear at times, at others blurred by several passes, yet it seemed a pattern emerged. I had run in circles, with nothing of a plan in my mind, yet I ended 20 yards from my starting point in a straight line pointing home. I had to laugh, running about like a headless chicken and I was still pointed right where I had meant to go. Maybe there is hope for this quest after all.
48 hours out of Runeforge:
“You sure you want this just like this? You don’t strike me as the type,” the smith asked, looking at me askew. I sighed, “Yes, I’m sure. Please let me know when you can have it done. I have to get it over to a wizard as soon as possible, so that he might finish the dweomers I need bound to it.” At the time though, I wasn’t sure at all. In the middle of the busy market, dust and bustle fighting for dominance in the afternoon breeze, I was second guessing myself. The peace, the surety, that I had felt the previous night were gone – lost in the fear of embarrassment and ridicule that had haunted me for most of my life. Walking away, I half-turned around to tell him to forget it, when a flash of brilliant blue caught my eye. A swallowtail?! In the middle of winter? I whirled back around, searching for it again… there! No, not a real one, but an almost lifelike work of art bound the braids of a woman shopping in the stall across from the armorer. Royal blue, darkening almost to purple, iridescent wings cradling the side of her head. It was enough. Laugh if you will, but I will take that as a sign that I am doing the right thing after all.
72 hours out of Runeforge:
I spoke with the priest of Desna again. He assures me that not all dreams are foolishness, and not all dreamers need be asleep. What kind of riddles are these when I need some answers?
Took the armor to the enchanter, he assured me that it would be ready in a couple of weeks. The others said they are going to need at least that long.
Back at the farm, the people have received the first wagon, they should be good for the remainder of the week. Time to get back to the library.
1 week out of Runeforge:
Travelling back and forth between the library and Sandpoint. I want to find out anything I can about this Shalast place we need to get to. Current maps are useless, but I’m hoping that digging through all this I can find some of the older maps and try to see where they match up, even vaguely.
Trying to figure out how to approach Bill about Mother. Still not sure if he will help or even if he can.
The music came to me again twice this week, both times after I left the refugee village. I wonder if one of them is doing something to me?
2 weeks out of Runeforge:
Most of the books and maps are useless. The closest thing I have so far is that it is near Leng, but I can’t find reference to that kingdom or runelord at all.
Four more times this week. The last two while I was here at the library, neither of which were within a day of visits to the refugees.
72 hours until our suicide run:
Bill tried to help Mother. He needs something to trigger the cure, blood of a mortal who has achieved immortality. So unless I can get Cayden drunk again, we have to get it from Karzoug himself. Joy.
The music has come every night for the last 6 days. Now, it seems less frenzied, and more settled. It feels like that last time we all got drunk together actually, when I was dancing, but more natural. Strangely, I can now see exactly how I got from my start point to my end point, and all the steps in between, even though I was not really conscious at the time. It’s never the same twice, but always feels identical in the moment.
I guess I did the right thing after all. Osanna always talks about Sarenrae as if she speaks to her directly. I think maybe I am hearing Desna hum to herself or something. Which is probably for the best, I would make lousy clergy. I’ll pick up the armor tomorrow and go back for a last fitting. Hope I don’t look as foolish as I am afraid I will when it’s on.
12 hours til we leave:
I stood and looked at myself in the mirror. I could not help but ask, is this really me? The smith had done a flawless job, the butterfly stood out in brilliant cerulean blue, stark against the silver of the mithral chest plate. The heavy armor fit well, hardly weighing more than my old breastplate alone. The cloak the priest at the temple had suggested when I came in to tell him goodbye and give my thanks for the conversations went well with it, midnight blue and trimmed in silver stars, comets, and moons framing everything well. In this outfit I could pass for a Desnan Warpriest! I wondered what the others would think, but managed to dismiss it. I doubt that anyone will comment too much, except maybe Samael.
First night on the road:
I was mostly right. Not a lot of comments from the others, except a half-hearted curse from Thrune. To Hell with it! If we go to die, I will damn well die proud!
And here’s the strangest thing. The closer we get to facing Karzoug himself, the less and less I seem to be worried. I mean, I’m worried for Mother, and Sandpoint, and to a lesser extent Varisia as a whole, but less and less about myself and the others here. It’s strange, I have come through battles that should have killed me, plagues and curses that almost did, and possession by the closest thing to a walking deity on this plane, and it took all of that to finally put me at peace.
Even now, I look up at the stars, and I know, not think, not hope, but KNOW, that everything will work out. Maybe not for me, or those with me, but the larger picture will be clear, and life will continue here. I mean, these same stars witnessed the dawn, the rise, and the fall of Thassilon. They were there for everything since then, wars, peace, life, love, death and loss, yet they still shine down on us just as they did before. They are there, have been there, and will be there long after our fight with Karzoug. Win or lose, it’s kind of comforting to have that kind of permanence to hold on to.