Birthright - 4th Edition

Parting is such sweet sorrow...
...especially when its at knife point

This will be short for I am too overwhelmed by my thoughts. The fates are conspiring against my future happiness! Things went from bad to worse fairly quickly (once the hallway ended). First we explained why we slaughtered the goblins. That wasn’t too bad, it meant the wererat and Althion had to cook instead.

Then Morga left the room to tend to some business, I went along since it meant we would get time alone together. Unfortunately that business was to talk with her brother. You wouldn’t expect this to be a problem, except her brother was the ice monster we slaughtered earlier… Needless to say she didn’t take this well, and unfortunately she had the magics to find out who did it. We had a bit of a spat, and I had no choice but to defend myself… Though self defense is something I’m good at, I couldn’t bring myself to deliver the killing blow…

All in all, I allowed Morga to escape and the rest of the team couldn’t stop the rat. (Maybe I should hire goblins as well?) We did get Yuri the eldar though and are now bringing him back to town. It also seems that Morga still believes we are working as agents of the Kracken, no clue what the wererat thinks.

The party consensus seems to be getting a ship and finally going someplace where there actually is civilization! I look forward to leaving the icy north behind… It will let me escape some of this sadness…

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Liriel's diary - Seventh entry

It has perhaps been the longest few days in my two centuries of life.

Galloway ordered us to lead the left flank of the attack into Rhuobhe. Govannon was to command the forces assembled there and the men were jokingly calling us “Govannon’s Six”. Each of us paired off with a force battalion of men numbering in the hundreds. Miri and I were to lead one of the faster moving battalions while the others worked from the back to better plan for the chaos of the coming battle. When all our forces were prepared, we met the army of Ghealles on a rolling plain by the edge of the forest. The armies sized each other up and the generals stared at each other from across the plain. It was then that we got a good look at the elven general. The others wondered who might lead the army of the Manslayer…but the golden hair and the familiar way he held himself could only belong to Ceallach. My father led the army against us.

A pitched battle was fought. Men and horses died around us and at times the rain of Sidhelein arrows seemed to be unending. Battalions on both sides broke ranks, but our middle held. Five Sidhelein heroes were captured. Their forces were routed and their final remaining battalion threw down their weapons in resignation that they either surrender or be butchered by a superior force. Though some of the battalions were badly wounded, we didn’t loose a single squad.

Govannon gathered our forces to celebrate, but we were quickly joined by Galloway. The other fronts succeeded in their own assaults and he wished for us to accompany him in his vanguard.

We were to ride into the very heart of Rhuobhe and take the fight to the Ghealles themselves.

The way was long and we were ambushed by Sidhelein bladesingers in what the humans describes as an unnaturally heavy mist. We became separated in the mist and the bladesingers used our confusion to their advantage. It has been a long time since I fought any from the school of the Striking Serpent. We eventually beat them back taking a single prisoner. He proved to be uncooperative and when he found out who I was…I will only say that Ceallach told them about his “dead daughter” and that prisoner was dispatched of quickly and brutally.

We moved on to an ancient elven city in the heart of the forest. The army began to sack the city while Kenrik directed them not to burn down the forest and city around us. I tried to get the remaining Sidhelein to run, but alas some were lost. Our looting of the city was thorough. We were about to move on when we heard a voice from above us in the walk ways between the tree houses. Tall, menacing, and with a mane of black hair; Rhuobhe Manslayer stood above us and mockingly called to parlay with Galloway.

We looked at apprehensively at each other for a moment as Galloway climbed the ladder to the walkways above. We followed behind him quickly.

The Manslayer and Galloway talked as if they were the only two there; referencing something that happened far in Galloway’s past. Galloway, caught of guard, demanded to know how the Manslayer knew so much about him. Something about him slaying a dragon.

We watched the coterie around the Manslayer tensely and waiting for them to act on some unseen signal. Eoindeln stood among those gathered against us. Galloway drew his sword and told us that the elven wizard held a book and we should get it and get out as fast as possible. Rhuobhe drew his twin longswords made from a matte silver metal. Chaos erupted around us.

Miri led the charge against the elven guards and we tried to focus our magics and attacks to the wizard and those guarding her. Eoindeln covertly tried to help us, or at least not harm us in our attempts to battle the Manslayer’s guards. We quickly outmatched and started to realize how bad things were going for us. Majid tried to heal Galloway’s wounds, but they smoked and burned rather than healing. The onslaught became to much and Charles Galloway fell before the Manslayer. Just as the Manslayer was about to deliver the killing blow, Galloway shifted slightly and chose rather to fall to his death. Enraged, the Manslayer turned on us. I stepped forward to try to give the others enough time to grab the book and get out of the city. Rhuobhe looked down at me and said that my father would be happy to know I died fighting against the cause. The wounds from the Manslayer’s swords were like nothing I had encountered. It was as if I could feel my life ebbing from my body. As everyone else disappeared into the surrounding forest, I made a break for the edge of the woods. I knew that I would not be able to make it in time, but a parting arrow in my back knocked me into the cover of the forest were I was able to meet up with the group.

Wounded in both body and pride, we limped back to the army’s encampment. The rest of the men burned and looting in their retreat headless of their safety or ours. We arrived back to the encampment dodging questions from the senior staff. We met in Galloway’s tent and started to pour over the book we risked out lives for as well as Captain Galloway’s personal log and diary.

We looked to each other with a sense of sadness and apprehension.

Charles Galloway, famed mercenary captain,our employer and friend was dead.

What now?

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Liriel's diary - Sixth entry

We returned from our battle in the rat warren and were immediately ushered to a private audience with Galloway. None of wanted to talk about the disgusting rat king, which turned out to be a ugly tangle of dire rats of an Awnsheghlien or anything we faced. The battle was over and we were more than content to dream of the vast wealth we found in the warren and how we were going to spend it. Our dreams were cut short, however. The job I’d been dreading was now at our doorstep. With not one, but two employers, we were slated to engage the collected forces of the Manslayer and preemptively wipes of the threat of a legion Ghealles.

We do not have much time to prepare. The war machine is churning and the rest of the mercenaries have been making their last arrangements.

Fiara, I’m leaving this book with you in the hope that you will merely be safeguarding it for me while we are successful. Sometimes life doesn’t always work out the way we plan and sometimes life isn’t fair.

I’m leaving you my spare longsword and a map I stole from the rest of the group. The map and the coin that I found in the cabin where I met your father long ago might hold the answers you seek. You are a scion of Masela, you are Sidhelien, and most of all you are loved. Never for a moment doubt that you are not in control of your senses. You have always made me proud.

In the event I fall in battle, seek your grandmother and great-uncle in the Elvenmere and let them know what befell. They will help you and they love you as much as I do.

Sometimes I wonder if my father and I never got along because we were so alike and all my sins he saw himself commit. It was never you he hated. It was me. And I mean to bring Ceallach Aurethrin home. Whether I drag him home alive or dead is up to him.

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Endless hallway...

Their footsteps echoed down the hallway…
Tholecht didn’t remember the path to the dining room being this long, it felt as if it would take at least three weeks to traverse the distance.
On the bright side it allowed plenty of time to devise an explanation for the room full of goblins they slaughtered…
Now if only he could stop staring at the sway of Morga’s hips as she walked and THINK

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Liriel's diary - Fifth entry

Galloway had a job for us all right.

He’d been monitoring the elven migration to Rhuobhe and is hoping for work if the Manslayer is indeed making a move. The neighboring countries will surely want the army there to prevent a possible attack. The prospect of fighting a legion of gheallies does not sit well with me and I can tell the rest of the group is not thrilled by the idea either.

Galloway sent us north to where one of his insiders found to be the source of the wererats (conveniently on the northern route elves from Tuarhievel would use to get to Rhuobhe). This was supposedly the warren where all the rats were coming from.

Travel was swift and in no time we arrived at our destination no time. The warren was well guarded and tried to devise a clever plan to get in with little problem. Govannon tried some illusionary work, but either it wasn’t terribly convincing or they were ready for possible intruders. We resorted to our specialty: focused attacks on leaders and quick and brutal dispatching of lesser targets. Aside from some trouble with larger dire rats, we were able to disable the outside forces.

We moved inside, wasting very little time, hoping to catch the rats unaware of what had happened on the battlements. We were assaulted with swarm after swarm of vermin and their wererat controllers. Wave after wave, they came at us. We finally were able to clear our backfield and move farther into the warren. Already our resources were running thin and a sense of urgency is running through to the group. Get to the heart of the warren, kill the rat king, and get out alive. Quick thinking and a long hallway aided us to meet the rats in what we’ve loving termed as the “meat grinder” to keep our backs clear and focus at the waves coming toward us.

Our brief rest is almost over. I just hope we can outlast them…

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Liriel's diary - Fourth entry

There has been too much on my mind to properly put pen to paper.

We returned from the Mhor’s lands with little fanfare. We were tired and just happy to see familiar faces. Galloway allowed us some time to clean up from the road before we had our debriefing meeting. I admit, I was too tired to pay much attention and was distracted by my own want of a good bed and simple food..

Galloway allowed us to go about our business so long as we were reachable. He had plans for the army concerning the wererat problem, but we could take what little rest until then.

Govannon and Majid eagerly returned to Dumaire with their eye on claiming the source under the city. Kenrick was convinced to do more research on the possible cure to lycanthropy, but you could see in the way he held himself and the set of his jaw that he had other things on his mind that he would rather do.

Javiero was only too glad to leave again and do whatever posturing humans of noble birth are want to do.

Miri has some idea to take Jude along with her to the Southern coast, but for what I’m not sure. They traveled with Fiara and I briefly before we headed off to the Elvenmere.

Our return home was quiet. Fiara said little, but she could probably feel the tension radiating off of me. This trip home, I was going to find my father and give him a piece of my mind. Fiara would stay here in the safety of our people and he would except that or else.

My mother, the picture of grace and courtesy that she is, was crying when we got home. In my centuries of life, I have never seen her cry. Not when my father and I came to blows over Fiara. Not when I left home in anger. She would not tell me what was wrong an maintained that it was “only nothing”. I didn’t know what to do, but as upset as I was at my mother’s distress I asked where my father was so I could deal with him. She said that he had left for a bit and turned the conversation to more pleasant topics. She never did like to see us fight.

I left Fiara with my mother and checked in with my uncle Jaedenar at the training schools. The mood was subdued, which was unusual. When I asked about my mother, he looked very sad. I knew they were as close as two siblings could get, so I pressed him as to what was wrong. I was not prepared for the answer.

Rhuobhe Manslayer called the ghaellies home…and my father answered the call.

He was apparently not the only one to leave, but I could not get the picture of my father out of my mind. How could he do this? How could he do this to my mother?

Ceallach Aurethrin. Tall for an elf, with the same golden blond hair and intense green eyes that I had. The same set of jaw when we were angry. The same temper and unwillingness to back down. We were always so similar, I was just a younger version of my father. I was, until I had Fiara. I think that bothered him more than anything. I became an embarrassment and my daughter was an abomination in his eyes. We hated each other ever since.

I decided to clear my mind. I searched for the old cabin from when I first met him. I wish I knew his name, something I could attach to the gentle face from so many years ago. Years ago… he…he won’t look the same now. Fifteen years wasn’t so long for me, but what about him? The only thing I could find in the cabin was a small coin left forgotten under the bed. Otherwise the place had not been touched. Maybe he forgot about me.

With so much sadness and heartache, I think it was time to leave again. I asked Fiara to stay here with my mother, but she didn’t want to. It didn’t feel like home for her. I couldn’t really blame her, but I had hoped.

We met back up with the rest of the Six at the source and discussed our plans over dinner. We were attached by a squad of wererats while eating. I think people were more annoyed that the Shepard’s pie was ruined than us being attacked in our own sanctum. After a brief and blood battle, we had a handful of “volunteers” for Kenrick’s cure. Fiara, I was told, cut the wererat leader in half after performing some amazing feats of dexterity and brutality. I think she’s starting to manifest blood powers, but I can’t recall anyone in the family having the ability to do what Miri described as “Fiara be in battle rage, run though waters, rip rat in half and kill good.” Miri seemed proud but my poor daughter was terrified. I will have to try to find out how I can help her.

Unfortunately we’re expecting Galloway soon, and will probably be deployed on another mission.

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Complications...

Dear Friend,
I apologize for not writing for so long, things have been fairly busy and the ink I have been using froze in the cold.
Now that I am inside a “warm” keep I finally have the chance to write once more.

I fear things have gotten more complicated.

Our paths have crossed with the halfling priestess Morga several times at this point… Most often ending in bloodshed.
Once again our paths crossed and I truly saw her for the first time.
This time she was not in the middle of an evil sacrifice, nor engaged in battle, she was simply sitting behind a table going through research notes.

Granted this was research on cruel experiments concerning wererat bites and blooded humans, but that is beside the point.
I have confidence we’ll get Yuri the elder out either tonight or tomorrow without any further fighting.
We just have to make sure the real buyers don’t arrive before then.

But I digress from what truly matters… I was struck by Morga’s true, if severe, beauty. Halfings and humans aren’t that different, one is just a little smaller than the other. We both have hopes and dreams and hearts which seek companionship.

It will be my pleasure to keep the lovely Morga distracted while my associates do what is required to free Yuri.
I know just thinking about her makes my heart race, and though she is awkward about showing it, I believe she feels the same.

I know I am not thinking entirely clearly as I write this, my thoughts are scattered. Without thinking I agreed to wait out the storm when she invited me to stay. I’m sure my associates will come up with some excuse to leave sooner, but I hope we at least have the time to enjoy dinner and a short rest…

Now the only real question is how to explain the room of slaughtered goblins…

-Tholecht

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Report back from
A clue to their whereabouts

_A crude calendar or dirty journal was discovered at the bottom of the mine shaft. It has been translated (as best as we could) from we think Vos to Low Brecht, and then translated it once more for you to read in your home tongue, my lord.

Perhaps it might give us a clue as to where those who ransacked the mine and your father’s personal affects went._
-
Spring – Jude turns 9. Fiaral turns 14 or 15. Time flies.
Must look nice for dancing.
Hate customs.
Old man discuss helmet. Helmet makes bones jump from skin once dead, and keep on fighting. Will not put on head until make sure not case.
Summer – Galloway have us stay about to quell Rats.
Priest look into curing rat problem. Will not allow test on Jude until sure.
Noble go work on talk and manners and looking good.
Bard go with Old Man to Baron Roseone’s daughter’s birthday celebration. Bard made Old Man’s Lieutenant. Old Man find power, is real Wizard now, not just Blacksmith. Getting older though. Worried.
Autumn – I have birthday. Also getting older. Have not had any response from letters sent for quite some time. Hear about Orog invasion in home, but some other group killing them and this is good.
Teach Jude Endurance, stay close enough to city in case he get sick.
Stillwater still like us, he lend Old Man, Priest, and Lieutenant Bard a lot of money.
Daughter go with mother to elf-land and they learn stuff.
More magic happen, stay out of it and hone skills.
Rat attack us, Fiaral walk on water and destroy Rat Chief.
Survivors will have rat cure tested on them.
They ruin shepard’s pie; Jude and me upset about that.
Will give him strength training tomorrow, so we not around in case rat people die.
Jude turning into good kid!

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Liriel's diary - Third entry

I was beginning to think that we would be stuck in the harsh north and that forgotten tomb for much longer than we intended.

We continued exploring the tomb dodging various traps and perils. We became more convinced of the age of the tomb when we found a hidden crypt for a dwarven couple. In our single-minded quest for the ring that King Bervinig spoke of while in his wolf form, we treaded onward and came upon perhaps one of the most disturbing things yet. Down a rough hewn tunnel we came across spectral stags fighting shadowy wraith-like beings. Truly Govannon was right. Maybe this was an ancient place dedicated to Reinir.

The battle with the wraiths was harrowing as they utilized strange mind-clouding powers and floated seamlessly across the battlefield. Once they were dispatched, we needed to rest. The lurking fear that if we rested, the strange sounds above us would let whatever they were catch up to us. We knew they were probably orogs. My thoughts turned to the children guarding the wagon above. Were they discovered? Were they alright?

In the hidden nook where we fought the wraiths, we found the item we had been questing all this time for. How could such a simple and small ring possibly hold the cure we were looking for?

We dashed through the rest of the winding corridors. Javiero and I decided last minute to go back to the dwarven tomb and take the axe we had found within. If there were truly orogs trudging through this tomb, we wouldn’t let them leave with anything valuable.

Small clashes with orog scouts alerted our presence to large groups. We took various short cuts and side corridors. It became a race to see if we could get out before we were ambushed. In all my years, I would never think that I would have owed our escape of the tomb to…a giant frog. As it turns out, this huge creature sided with us for some unknown reason and took care of the orogs as we escaped. Being eaten by a giant frog while perhaps not the best way to die, was more than fitting for those raiders.

Coming out of the tomb, we found the wreckage of our wagon and no sign of the children. Javiero was able to track them down. My quick thinking Fiara took Jude and hide. I am so proud of my little girl. It turns out we were gone for well over a day and we had a lot of time to make up as we fled the Rjurik province.

After buying some horses in one of the first towns we came to, we made much better progress in fleeing from the cold north.

The ride south was not as hard as the ride north. We decided to stop in Mhoried, as Javiero wished to pay a visit to their ruler Daeric Mhoried. We were greeted as honored guest and allowed to attend a state dinner complete with dancing and perhaps more social interactions that we needed. The night was full of ups and downs as Javiero prepared himself to be completely embarrassed by the rest of Galloway’s Six. While I won’t claim to fit in with most human ideas of proper and culture, I know how not to make a fool of myself. I also don’t appreciate the look he keeps giving Fiara when he thinks I’m not watching.

Kenrick apparently was an old friend of the Mhor’s son, and we soon found ourselves brought to an honored position at the high table (much to Javiero’s joy and the dismay of the rest of us). While not making total fools of ourselves, it was a long night. I look forward for our departure in the morning.

And if Javiero continues his “looks” at my daughter I might have to have more than a few words with him…

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A fragment from Javiero's field report

…clearly another hard won victory, thanks to myself and my Anuirean compatriot. Our respite from exploring the dark corridors of this tomb were interrupted, however, by that reckless twit Miri. If we ever find a switch, lever or button she doesn’t press, I’ll eat my bow. Needless to say, the floor beneath suddenly gave way and we found ourselves in an even deeper level. Kenrick and I were the first to recover from the fall, naturally, and were able to help the others get back on their feet quickly.

This level was like the one above, with strange carvings of people carrying offerings to some yet unknown destination. As I began to lead the party forward, we soon discovered this place was teeming with life…all of it hostile.

We came to a Great Hall of sorts, at least one suitable for the backwater kings in this place, with a beautifully carved wood and woven rug. That’s when they attacked. Kenrick was the first to notice, as a pair of Cockatrices leaped from the balcony and swooped down to attack. Without hesitation I drew my bow, filling one full of arrows. It dropped dead at my feet, as Kenrick smashed his mace against the other. The rest of the party scrambled, caught completely unaware. Fortunately, with natural Anuirean leadership on the field, they were able to ready themselves quickly. Miri, for all her failings, is a competent fighter and was able to finish off the second Cockatrice with Kenrick’s help.

Now on guard, Kenrick and I continued to lead the party forward, deeper into this ancient tomb. It is a literal menagerie down here, with everything from ghost wolves (who looked for offerings of meat), talking bears (which guarded this strange magic healing circle), a talking stone bird (trapped by this tomb’s owner), a giant frog (aside from being giant, seemed normal) and giant bugs (food for previously mentioned bird). Whatever the purpose of this place might have once been, it is now nothing more than a trap. A trap we must dismantle piece by piece to discover the ring we seek. Unfortunately, time was short as I heard footsteps on the level above. We were followed and hurried our search. That’s when…

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