The Eclipse of Hope

Empyrean's Journal, Cycle #1777, Day #193
Kalarel Defeated

So indeed this place of horror and darkness has been cleansed of evil. It is a great day in the presence of Pelor and Mayaheine! For two days, we have striven against the foes within the fortress called recently, “The Keep on the Shadowfell” – and victory is ours through faith and companionship.

Kalarel indeed made this place his home and he is fallen. What was once originally a place sacred to Bahamut and home to good men and women of the Vale has been returned to its prior state. The Lord of the Keep is once again at rest, as well. In the morn, we return to Winterhaven to bring the blessed news to the townsfolk. Hopefully with Lord Padrig’s assistance, we can keep watch for years over the portal to that accursed plane of existence, the Shadowy plane of death and pain.

Who knows what the next week holds for us besides, if Pelor wills it, a few days of rest and prayer. There is still the matter of the slavers at large that we need attend to; I will discuss the matter with Sister Lenora when we return to town. Mayhap she has heard of this band of creatures that kidnaps and enslaves. The letter we recovered from Kalarel’s lair spoke of Thunderspire Mountain. I’m no local, but it was hard to miss the lone mount east of Fallcrest – perhaps a few day’s march, I’d estimate. I know nothing of the place, and I doubt my comrades do, either; we will need to access further knowledge on the subject before treading into the territory of such adversaries.

Then again, there are still two others at large whom are our enemies now: Agrid, that foul gnome, and the mysterious tactician behind our first encounters in Fallcrest, so-called Wormwood. Finding them may be tedious at best. Perhaps they will find us again first – I hope we are ready for it.

Empyrean's Journal, Cycle #1777, Day #191
Keep on the Shadowfell

Our adventures have consumed the last week, and now we rest momentarily on the precipice of continued danger. We indeed took the time to assist the small town of Winterhaven in their time of need. Tracking the local kobold, goblin, and hobgoblin threats was a worthwhile endeavor that netted us key leads that now direct us to an assault on this dark-stoned keep before me.

Unfortunately, along the way, darkness dealt another harsh blow – as our guide and friend Nenaren, a skilled and trusted ranger of the forest in her own right, turned her back upon the light for the final time and paid for her sins with her lifeblood. Pelor’s grace shall be withheld from that one – that scion of Orcus’ brutish evil.

So we now call to Pelor for strength and light as we descend into the depths of this accursed place and bring justice to this land by sword and by the conviction of our spirits. By his will, we will soon re-emerge victorious.

Empyrean's Journal, Cycle #1777, Day #185

It has been an eventful day. The five of us arrived in Winterhaven, as planned, after five full days of travel on the King’s Road from Fallcrest. Besides the ambush near the false gravemarkers, the journey was not noteworty, particularly. I’ve grown accustomed to the nuances of my travelling companions: Syrun’s almost inaudible humming as he examines The Card, the glint in Reynaldo’s eye whenever meat is cooking over the fire, Grauple’s ability to smell us before he can even see us, and of course the Minotaur’s snoring at night…

There were several notable subjects in town that we chatted with over time this eve. I will refer any kind reader to my supplemental journal on investigations for the details, and I will only give the briefest of insights here:

Coal-Striker: Dwarven Smith – blind, ale, quality goods, friendly, community-driven
Lenor: Human Prelate of Avandra – uninformed (regarding the cult activity), dedicated, comely, faith-driven
Paidrig: Human Mayor/Lord – honest, upright, forward-thinking, mild avarice?
Valthrune: Human Mage/Sage – modestly intelligent, connected, elderly, conservative, judgemental
Rond: Human Man-at-Arms – de-facto castellan, capable, martial, goal-driven

After an evening of banter, information-gathering, drinking (mild, considering the constitution of this incarnation), and negotiating, we have come to the following conclusion: to best assist with the needs of this small community and to advance out goals regarding the investigation of and interference with the local cult, we will need to seek out a recent migrant visitor to the area by the name of Dovin Stahl – a treasure hunter of sorts. He is investigating what would seem to be a dragon burial site nearby. Interesting of its own accord and worth the effort, likely. We would be wise to keep eyes out for another party in the area – a huntress named Nenaren. I’ve not seen the elf, but Grauple caught sight of her in Sylvana Raftin’s Inn this eve. We were not able to talk with her ’ere she left, unfortunately. Rangers always make formidable allies when in their own neck of the woods. She could be an excellent guide, perhaps.

Tomorrow we meet with Valthrune, the sage and make our way to the burial site. Pelor bless our endeavors.

Empyrean's Journal, Cycle #1777, Day #184
An Ambush...

We’ve been on road just a few days now and are west of Fallcrest an estimated 50 miles. The terrain has become more rugged, the hills rising as we travel westward toward the small village of Winterhold. We were ambushed nearby earlier this eve, as the sun sank to the horizon. Three gravestones were set off the road a bit – the dirt seemed newly turned. As we stopped to examine a bit, I could feel there was something a bit off – almost too late did I realize the danger. I cannot make the same mistake again. Caution has always served me well, and I have had too little of it lately. The kobolds that came for our lives gave theirs instead, thank Pelor. One or two escaped, but I doubt they’ll be much of a nuisance from now on to anyone.

Tonight we rest again in the fold of a small hill, earth and stone at our back. My companions are becoming more familiar with each other as I gain understanding of their weaknesses and strengths. It’s a difficult thing, growing to know others through battle, hardship, toil…

Yesterday, as we ended the day yet again not having met even a soul on the road, Grauple finally relaxed a little. He hasn’t stopped looking over his shoulder as we ride; perhaps there are still those that would seek him out this far from home. Certainly though, as he rides further away from the houses and people of Fallcrest (and into the wilderness), he demeanor becomes more relaxed. I wish it were so for the other “Moon”, as I’ve come to call them, at least in my own mind.

Reynaldo continues to brood at times. He is no more comfortable here in the wild than he was in the city. I wonder if he feels the call more strongly out here, away from the street-lanterns and taverns; feels it pull him – as though to take him forever. It would be a hard thing to master, this form of lycanthropy that plagues him. Yet I remember others like him from my past – dark and brooding though some were, I can remember the Others… We camped on the cold plateau in the dark of night, the moon had risen and was nearly full, yet they welcomed it, welcomed the pulse of blood in their veins, full of life and the world for a just a while, at least. Their golden fur shone in the pale light, the silvered mail upon their chests heaved with breath, and, as one, their heads rose together – howling…

Across from me, chaos stirs – tonight his hair is black and there is no moon in the sky. He has been a good companion so far. He searches the world for something though… perhaps that Card of Fate will lead him to it. He fondles it so that one would think he sees his death there – or his salvation. Maybe for this one, they are the same.

The Horned One is near me, as always. Behind me, 5 paces to the left. His eyes are on me, I can feel them. It is good to have one of Mayaheine’s with us. His arm may flag, his shield may give way, but his will, like hers, is unbendable like iron – it will need to be… the dreams still come to me every night; the future is darkness.

Empyrean's Journal, Cycle #1777, Day #178
New support for the quest...

The paladin calls himself Thoq. He has an interesting story to tell and was gifted to the church at a young age. He was born to be a bastion against evil, it would seem. Azoun agrees with me on this and the letter sent to the Bishop, ahead of the young Valiant’s arrival, indeed reads true: that he is the most promising candidate of those pledged to Mayaheine in many years – and a male, at that! (And minotaur!) He will be my twin sun in this land of night and shadow. Together, we will be as Valya and Manar, in the olde tongue. I shall wield Pelor’s Divine Authority and in this Valiant’s hand will be wielded the Doom of Pelor’s foes.

This last eve we traveled to the nearby alehouse that was pointed out to me by the acolytes. A place to find two others of those in my dreams – somehow each of us brought here, to Fallcrest. On our arrival we spy them out easily, the brothers in blood. Brothers to the world tree. So whispers Al’Asran in my sleep. They are primal spirits and are kindred to one another in the blood of the wolf. One is Grauple – the druid is an elf and is quiet, like many of his kind – when he speaks, one must learn to listen, for there are newfound thoughts within his words. The second is Reynaldo – he is both man and beast and within him is conflict, always… and pain. They are the two moons from my visions.

(I remember now, in half-forgotten visions, the Aire du Laer – The Druids of Summer. Holy men who gave sacrifice to Sol, who they knew only as Father of Summertide. Rather than secret away in hovels as those so-called earth-lovers do now, they cared for the forests and the men and elves that made their homes there, as well.)

Finally, a lone soul cast adrift on the Sea of the Cosmos. This one I did not foresee, but if the signs are correct (and they are, they are) then he is the ocean of stars to our suns and moons, a constellation to himself and yet he seems to shift purpose from moment to moment like the fickle Sea herself. He says he is known as Syrun.

Together, as one, we join forces, for now. It will take time to purify us in the heat of battle. But that is what Sol is best at, is it not? And the warm pure radiance that follows will be a welcome sight.


Empyrean's Journal: Cycle #1777, Day #177
My waiting is at an end...

I have been passing the time in Pelor’s presence here at the temple, these last several days. After the 154 day trip from the Sea of Dust my body could take no more. And so I rest and fill my days with prayer. Yet today, the 177th day since my incarnation, is an auspicious day.

Today, prayer has been answered. The one of which I dreamed so many weeks ago in the desert has finally arrived. A minotaur, he massive and well-built to endure the torments of his kind in ages past. Yet he is well-trained and defers to me in language and movement; he is well full of the blessings of Pelor and will make a fit and proper companion to effect Pelor’s calling in this world.

I have already spoken again with the local Bishop Azoun – he suggests that the most likely place to start with my dreams is to investigate the ruins west of here, near the small burg of Winterhaven. He mentions vague reports of undead in the area, there. Azoun is helpful and active in the church and makes a good shepherd to the flock here in Fallcrest… I will heed his advice on this – I can sense Pelor’s guiding spirit in him. Soon we set out west.



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