Rise of Tiamat

Life purpose and crap
From a Dragonkind

A persons life is counted by something. Mine happens to be teeth. Teeth I have received so I could eat another meal or teeth that came from defending life (mine or others). This has been forever changed in my life, and I am not sure how I feel about this…
Let’s start from the beginning… Well not really the beginning. That would have been 25 years ago and I don’t want to write that much. So let’s start in the middle.
My companions and I were summoned to a feast. I really wasn’t in the mood to go be with people especially since sparky wasn’t able to come with me, but I was hungry so I went anyway. I was just setting in to eat a big chunk of roast beast when the roof was ripped off! I was looking up at 4 chromatic a (only blue had skipped out of the feast). In just seconds (I wasn’t even able to get a good mad going) everything went REALLY calm. I mean I was calm but a piece of me I have never noticed before was wildly angry… Then it was gone… I felt like some part of me was missing.. This might lead to trouble.
I looked up and I was in a room. This was a long room kinda like a hallway. No not a hallway, just a room. But this room was lined with doors. Ugh. Is this a puzzle? I HATE puzzles… I start looking around to see how I can get out of here and get back to… Well whatever I was doing before I got here. In the middle of the this room is a long table at this table was 2 dragons… One is Tim. Gold Tim. The other is sparky… No not sparky… It’s a much older much bigger more platinum sparky… Where is sparky… Is that anger.. No sad… Yes that’s it… That is sadness… This will definitely be a problem. Wait… I know that other dragon… Crap… Tim told me his name.. He’s the one that showed up at the dragon light head thing…. When I wake up I have to start listening… The ancient starts to laugh like he can hear me.. I focus In on their conversation… Oh crap Tim is having one of his serious conversations… Maybe he hasn’t seen me… Can I get away before… Crap they both turn and look at me… Spotted guess I’ll sit down.
“… Try not to do it too many times, you do not have an unlimited number of trips back and forth…” The ancient was saying. Only time would want to come back to a puzzle room…
Then the ancient turns to me. Selina dragonkind. I turn and look behind me… “Me? It’s Selina Earthwanderer.”
“that may be your earth name but your true name is Dragonkind. But in time you will find out all about that. For now we need to talk about why you are here.”
“well… Let me think… Before I was here I was… Eating… No… I was about to eat but sparky…” Sadness again… Big trouble… “Couldn’t come in.. No warning… The roof was gone… Dead… That’s what I have been looking for… I’m dead… And my companions… Tim is here so he is dead… I don’t see anyone else…”
“they are all dead… Sparky was able to stay alive until the other metallics got there. The town is workings on raising all of you”
“I actually don’t like the not dead dead… I would rather…”
“Do not worry little one. You will be very much alive. Now, for what we need to discuss before you leave. I have been watching you-”
“Are you related to uncle… No that doesn’t sound right… But he said the same thing… Hmmm… There really wasn’t much to watch I was HORRIBLE at negotiations. I wasn’t any better with the tribes… I mostly spent time alone… Alone, that’s what I should have done eaten alone… I still haven’t found my place… I don’t know what I will do once Tiamat and the cult are stopped… I’ve only felt at home with the metallics … But I suppose-” Gold Tim does his too much gesture… “Oh, right sorry”
The ancient laughs a little. “You are here so we can talk about your purpose.”
“ohh, well that’s easy… I don’t have one.” I see Tim roll his eyes.
“Oh, but you do… You just have to choose to accept it. And now is that time.” He turns to Tim, “Speaking of time, it’s yours to go back.”
“your purpose. I need someone like you. Someone who lives in the world but also lives with the dragons. I need someone to be a guide for others who work with the dragons and help the world get over their prejudices of the dragons specifically with the new chromatics.”
“I actually don’t understand. But it sounds like I will be negotiating the existence between dragons and people… Did I mention that I was HORRIBLE at negotiations?”
“This will be different. If you accept your purpose then you will have my guidance and the help of others. You work with the dragons better than any other right now. And you already have their trust. This is you purpose.”
“yeah ok I’ll do it. Sounds good. I’m hungry.” Just then a plate shows up. Yum. We continue our conversation over dinner. I am told what exactly he wants from me and that I will be a great bridge between people and dragons… Great. After some time I am told it is time to go. I go out of the door Tim left through. The next thing I know is a flood of emotions. The missing link is reconnected.
I can feel Sparky. He is close. Everything is kinda hazy, but it is a comfortable haze. Over the next few days Sparky shows me what is going on in the city along with what has happened since we were dead… Good grief Protanther really overreacted!

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Excerpts from Tim speaking with a Platinum Dragon

Tim: I remember exactly what we were doing right before I got here, which means I know how I got here. I’ve always said that someday when I die I will not plead to live as many others do, but I suppose I am about to make a liar out of myself. I have leagues of kobolds down there that are depending on me. I understand that everyone who dies believes themselves to be unique and irreplaceable, and as reluctant as I am to admit it, perhaps even my role in the struggle against the chromatics could possibly be shouldered by another talented individual. My concern is that I have begun to guide these kobolds down a path, and that it is too soon for me to depart from them as I do not have a suitable replacement, nor are they far enough along the path to guide themselves.

Platinum: I know, I have been hearing the voices of many kobolds lately. This used to be a rarity but as of late more and more of them have begun to speak to me and I recognize this as your influence.

Tim: As tempting as eternal rewards on this plane of existence may sound, I am not ready. I know that if I push the boundaries of my request then I risk your anger, but I humbly…

Platinum: Let me stop your right there because you don’t need my divine intervention today. Your people are making preparations to bring all of you back, and you will be hearing your name called very soon.

Tim: I am thankful.

Platinum: I can tell that you have more to ask me, don’t hesitate because this is your chance.

Tim: Okay, so ever since I got here I have been flooded with my ancestor’s memories of being here before, in fact even of standing here and speaking with you on several occasions. Why do I have his memories and why do I now appear as he did, rather than appear as myself? I understand that the black form may be considered a bit offensive here, but I don’t understand why I feel like more of an amalgam of myself and my ancestor Aurumtimvitae the Gold, than I do of simply myself.

Platinum: The short answer is that you carry what is left of his essence and spirit.

Tim: So he is a part of me?

Platinum: More like he is you, and you are him. Do you remember why he left here?

Tim: I remember that I… er, I mean he was furious at the mortals for making the dragons go mad, and that he was not only a staunch opponent of dragons ever changing their ways in the slightest, he was practically the spokesperson for that ideal. He believed that dragons would do best to separate themselves completely from mortals and their affairs on the material plane, and persuaded many others that he was correct. He would not listen to you, so you told him that he had to spend time with mortals and learn why he was incorrect. And then…

Platinum: And then still defiant, he challenged those who were responsible for what had been done to us rather than to heal past wounds. He mounted a campaign allied with dragonborn, half-dragons, and other like-minded dragons that did a LOT of damage, and as a response the mortals performed magic that destroyed his mind and then they quickly killed what was left of him. He was mourned by many, to include his mate who was a very adept spellcaster and a black scaled dragonborn. She tried to bring him back but could not. She knew that she carried his heirs as her eggs, but what she did not understand was that what very little that was left of him was bound to the living blood in his heirs as a result of her attempts at restoring him. This was centuries ago, and although the first generation would have been expected to have had physical traits of gold they appeared only as black dragonborn of her line, and of the subsequent kin nobody has manifested anything as you have.

Tim: If I understand correctly, I am him only because part of his spirit endured, and since there is no longer a “him” to be “him,” than I carry that mantle? Also, I notice that we’re not talking about the fact that I’m in the form of a full-fledged ancient gold dragon at the moment. I know that I have had many gold traits emerging up until the point of my death, which body is my real form?

Platinum: That depends on the work that you are doing. Your understanding of you being both you and your ancestor is about as correct and accurate as can be described in our short discussion, but I will tell you that since you are going back to do the work of Balefire the Black than it will be that form in which you will take. I will advise you that the more you grow, the more of what is left of Aurumtimvitae’s spirit grows with you. He will never be restored, but you will grow as he would have, and you even have the potential to restore that bloodline as it should have been.

Tim: I know our time here is short but as long as we are talking bloodlines I have one more thing to ask. My ancestor was bold and has crossed you, and I don’t plan on making the same mistake. I know that you know of what I have started with the chromatic eggs which I consider about one of the boldest things that I could have done. Am I out of line?

Platinum: If you had asked me this question during a stable time when we’d experienced no mixture of mortal magics and there was not a massive support of chromatic power by mankind’s evil designs than I would have advised you to cease as it would disrupt a balance of harmony. That balance has already been massively disrupted and only progressed to become far worse, and your efforts may be a long term investment to help put things back together and make them right again someday. I fully expect significant blowback, possibly even during your mortal lifetime, but the risk is acceptable and I know that there are older and wiser dragons aiding you in this task who also believe this may be a step in putting broken pieces back together, even with the foreknowledge that the reaction to this will indeed be severe.

Tim: Umm, about my mortal lifetime and the immediate threat…

Platinum: Yes, it is more likely than not that you will soon be here again under similar circumstances. Try not to do it too many times, you do not have an unlimited number of trips back and forth…

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Before Tim forgets...

Before I forget in real life and Tim has a senior moment in game, here is what I was thinking about that guy that died getting us the Blue Mask. I know we plan to res him because it’s the right thing to do after he had a moment of conscience and did a heroic thing and blah blah blah, but I was thinking we can do something slightly more strategic. After a long rest I can teleport again a few times and fetch someone trustworthy to res him rather than doing it in town where rumors can spread, and I was thinking we should get a druid so he/she can cast reincarnate. We give this guy a new body, he has a new identity and knowing what he knows can possibly go back in the cult undercover and seek out another mask or some other important objective (what’s the worst that’ll happen… he’ll die again lol). We can report any of his current intel to the council, but to protect his new identity only those who work directly with him will know who he is. Our Metallic allies don’t do too well undercover I’m assuming because they’ll be sniffed out, but maybe one of them would be happy to have this guy work directly for them to do what they cannot? We can hash out where to have this guy work to do the most good, but I think we should Reincarnate rather than Raise Dead.

Also, that dang Efreeti Bottle again. I’m thinking the best place to open it might be outside the tower from last time, then we can walk him back to that room where the baddies were spying on the City of Brass, and another of his kind are trapped down the hall. That just might light a fire (pun intended)…

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Shhh... it's a secret!

Balefire’s PC Meeting(s):
As you all probably know, my character usually takes care of some housekeeping/ kobold issues between adventures and would have invited all of you guys to a secret”ish” meeting to discuss his agenda. We know that we plan on doing an important hedgemaze/castle quest before heading out to see the Red Wizards in Thay, and Balefire would want you guys to be informed on what he plans to do as a side mission so there are no surprises. Thay might not be the greatest place in Faerun, and slavery which is legal there miiight be a bad thing (trust me, I’m going somewhere with this), but Balefire is planning on spending most of his available gold on as many kobold slaves as he can (if they are even available). The kobolds at Skyreach are already making room and setting up extra bunks, and at Bahamut church they are being made ready to be good mentors to all incoming kobolds. Balefire is doing the pious praying thing that perhaps divinely the right kobolds will just happen to fall into his ranks. If we march back from Thay with anywhere from one kobold to several dozen kobolds, that is not the kind of thing I could hide from you all, and I also don’t want to be sneaky around you guys while I’m getting quotes and doing business on the side, in fact I might even ask one or more of you reeeally nicely to tag along to help out.
Another thing that Balefire would not hide from the party is that he and Tessa have spoken together on the possibility of opening the Efreeti bottle one time to ascertain the temperament and nature of whomever is bound to it (barring any of the rarer percentile rolls or DM’s discretion, there would be two more bottle openings left afterwards so this is fairly safe). It might come that the Efreeti won’t be much use at all, but if there’s a possibility that he’s a decent fit, perhaps the second or third opening would be in the presence of a council member whose side he and a few of his like may be persuaded on augmenting for the right price? Perhaps the right price is that Tiamat doesn’t come back here and the Red D’s that serve them don’t become too powerful and independent, or maybe it will take more like prestige and war loot, who knows? We won’t know unless we meet it, and if we don’t like where it’s going then we just never open it again (until maybe looong after Tiamat just to be humane and release the thing). That of course assumes that we survive the end lol. Any/all of you guys are invited to be present if we open it, or if you aren’t interested that’s cool too, but just know that Tim would have kept all of you in the loop on this idea and would listen to your feedback.
That is pretty much where Balefire is at with his thinking at this point, of course every action is DM and Big Universe willing so I have no idea if any of this will even work, but I will keep my d20’s at the ready just in case…

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Linara's Research Notes

Back on the boat. Studied Maccath’s research from her 3 years in the horde of Arauthator. Lots of ancient magic I have never seen before. Her notes on book #46 look promising….

6 days of research has yielded nothing. Perhaps if I wasn’t constantly being interrupted to make a ridiculous flying broom….

I’ve found a symbol on a loose page of parchment that matches a symbol in Aramis’ book! Symbol is also present in book #46. Neither Maccath nor I can decipher it, but I feel we are getting closer….definitely worth almost being killed by a dragon!

Back in town. Maccath suggests we consult Dala of the Arcane Brotherhood for assistance. Look forward to being amongst scholars again.

Research superseded by politics. Why my presence is needed at a council meeting is beyond me. For once I agree with Sylina….I am bored!

Unbelievable experience with dragons! Fearsome and wondrous at the same time! Too much to write (see daily journal #6 for details). Important points: 1 – need to brush up on my draconic, and 2 – Ileuthra, the brass dragon (who shares my affinity for knowledge) presented me with an amazing book that will require all my concentration. Can’t wait to start!

Not again! Yet another adventure beckons, but no! I refused to go and remained to study the dragon’s book….knowledge is more important than fighting…

Success! A rune in the brass dragon’s book was the key to deciphering the unknown symbol…most interesting, possibly disturbing…rituals touching the nine hells? Must consult Maccath….if I am right (and I surely am), we will have much to discuss if the party returns alive.

My cloak of eyes sees all….and not all is good. I will record the fragments I have translated in case something happens to me…too important to lose…

rivers of blood
the masks that is one

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Field Notes of Tessa VanSligar Part 2

Mission: Find Maccath the Crimson and the Draakhorn

The journey to Oyaviggaton was mostly uneventful, except for a battle with an Octopus attack. We quickly put an end to the beast. Captain Lerustah and his crew preformed admirably and quickly carried us to the iceberg……..

Once there, we saw local watercraft tethered to the iceberg and a village at the summit. Also, we saw a huge pile of bones, both animal and human. Upon the bones were very large teeth marks. We suspect this is a refuse pile from Arauthator’s former meals…..

We approach the village to find approximately 20 structures and see 20-30 occupants of various age ranges. Three members of the Ice Hunter tribe approach us, Chief Barking Seal, Shaman Bonecarver, and tribe Champion Orcaheart. They refuse to answer questions until their champion fights one of our group. Sylina fights for our group, easily besting Orcaheart despite cheating on his part. Bonecarver then escorts us to her tent and offers us poisoned fish for dinner. We see through her deception and demand answers…..

She proceeds to tell us her sad tale of Arauthator’s oppression of her tribe. Old White Death has commanded her people to protect his lair upon pain of being his next meal. Her dishonorable actions were to drive us away so her tribesman wouldn’t be eaten. Bonecarver also reveals her visions of heroes coming to defeat the dragon and freeing her people. Believing us to be those heros, she tells us of Maccath, perils within the dragon’s lair, and shows us a back way in…….

We enter the home of Old White Death and quickly find Maccath. She tells us that the dragon considers her part of his hoard and will not willingly allow her to leave. The Teifling also tells of five humans parlaying with the dragon shortly after she arrived and leaving with the Draakhorn. Reluctantly, we realize the only way to complete this mission is to fight and defeat the dragon. Maccath says this isn’t his main lair and perhaps severely wounding him will be enough.

We formulate a plan and Maccath calls old White Death. He comes to us and battle ensues. It is a hard fight but the dragon is defeated. Maccath deals the final blow.

After the battle we seek the Ice Toads. Maccath tells us of their great intellgence , knowledge of the Draakhorn, and their intel about Arauthator. Marflub, the Seneschal of Oyaviggaton, agrees to accompany us to Waterdeep and share his knowledge with the council during these troubled times……

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Just under the wire, copy/pasted Balefire&Kobolds

Just got this DM approved, it was intended to be Balefire’s other correspondence that I was going to post all pretty like the last one, but real life got busy so we get bullet points from our emails instead. I am sharing mostly because the roleplayer in me feels it would be incomplete for me to not at least address Balefire’s objectives with the kobolds and his intended training for them. It may not get started right away, but Sharky is encouraged to get as much done as possible before the group gets back.

- Playing on the “humans are everyone’s second best friend,” and the way that the kobolds have actually gotten along well and shared crude humor with many, he wanted to have a few training exercises run alongside humans and would have petitioned to a few local Captains to get this going.
- The Kobolds would be split into two distinct groups based on their talents. The sneaky ones would form a group called “Snakes in the Grass,” and the deceptive ones who calculate from a distance would be the “Sky Wing.”
- The Snakes in the Grass would be on the battlefield, but their role is not damage since there are numerous phalanxes of men with large spears for that, rather they take advantage of the confusion, their small size, and their stealth to run supplies in the middle of battle. The goal is to have the exercises get the men and kobolds used to each other, as they run healing potions (and whatever else they are loaded up with) to their intended recipients and quickly deliver. They will be trained to move in and out of ranks to aid the fallen if needed, or occasionally interrupt what would otherwise have been a killing blow to an ally from sight unseen.
- The Sky Wing would take advantage of the floating castle, and as a part of diplomacy Balefire would welcome a few squads of humans to set up ballistas and catapults so that they can practice hitting targets from high in the air, while Sharky gets the practice positioning the island for them to have ideal and repeatable results (ie a human tower guard with moderate eyesight can hit the same spot in the field with a crossbow every time as long as he is standing on the circle he pre-painted and lines up the weapon along the notches in the wall exactly as intended… the idea is to extend this premise to the war machines on the island). With humans now in the sky they will rely on the Sky Wing to see human ranks in ways that they never have before. Since the kobolds have survived by breaking down the stronger until they are weak enough to strike, they will be able to use this principle to find ways to augment the ground forces, and at times predict where they would strike if they were the enemy. While the human’s role on the island will be to bomb targets below and obliterate them, the kobolds will identify weaknesses and manage the solutions. When the archer lines appear to be isolated, here comes a parachute with arrows. A Warg cavalry and Goblin infantry is advancing down there, no problem, here come caltrops by the hundred! The kobolds will eventually outlive their usefulness up here as humans get used to their solutions, and the humans would also outlive their usefulness as the kobolds learn to use the war machines, but that won’t be for a long time, and in Balefire’s mind when this happens they can just build double the amount of ballistas and put them all to work doing the same thing (waaay later).

Sorry, I had to write this hastily and last minute since it got pretty busy this week, but I pretty much hoped to get across that the kobolds understand that whatever nation’s wall they happen to live near, they need to support, and also that Balefire see’s how to well implement them and the island into the defense strategy, and wants to start running drills now rather than wait until it’s too late to consider such things. If you want I can post this as-is and just include this last part about how I’m sorry it was last minute and sloppy lol

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Balefire's Correspondence-Speech notes

This is a transcript that was received by council members and ancillary staff either in the form of letter, or face to face before the party set out regarding his official stance on the giant’s recent visit. There are a few letters that Balefire wrote as well as many meetings attended in person, and over the next few days they will be posted here (after they are DM approved lol).
See below:

It has come to be a concerning matter amongst many that there have been discussions over the possibility of our kingdom returning to the giants a partition of land that they have laid claim to. I would like to start by addressing what makes this vastly different from most land disputes, and that is that this one is both mobile and capable of being used as a great weapon.

It is not now, nor has it ever been policy to research every bit of land, every piece of property, and every trinket that had once belonged to another and return it, and in this instance, the spoil of war in which they had lost many centuries ago will not simply be turned over because they have made a claim. Were this the case, we would then insist that we audit their kingdom; really all kingdoms, for any property which may or may not have a distant claim related to it. There are forests that were once swamps, barren lands that were once great kingdoms, and even their great kingdom of giants is on land that primeval inhabitants could claim was an ancestor’s sacred land. We honour such requests with dignity, with compassion, and with a respect that there may be some hurt feelings on all sides, but it is our policy to not budge even an inch, as this would lead to our people who we have sworn to protect being taken advantage of.

There have been some who believe that if we did give this back, then we would gain the giant’s support against the dragon cult. I do hope to persuade you that I have a firm understanding of the hierarchy of structure that their kingdom uses, and I have a keen insight into the ways of their king, as it is the same as past kings. If we were to give them the land, they would not feel any obligation to help us, in fact we would be soon be an afterthought. To consider this line of thought however, if we were to ever want the giant’s help in a future matter, we could perhaps use this as a bargaining chip as a future reward. Land transactions, as we well know, do occur frequently after many great battles amongst allies, and if it ever came to it we could consider leveraging our position to gain their assistance against a common enemy. Did not the “INSERT HISTORICAL ARMY/ KINGDOM HERE” reward the “INSERT KINGDOM/ TRIBE HERE” with the coveted track of lands by the “INSERT LANDMARK/RIVER” after they helped in the “INSERT FAMOUS CONFLICT” allied campaign struggle? I am not suggesting that we do this, but this should be the only way we would ever consider giving it back. Consider this; one does not pay a laborer a daily wage without terms and then go on to afterwards request that they work, because the worker will have no reason other than their integrity to perform, rather they define what the work will be and only after the service has been provided, the reward is then given.

Giants value strength and they despise weakness. This may seem contrary to the beliefs of many, but our relationship with them will actually be BETTER if we stand up to them, and worse in the long run if we show our bellies. There are some that are concerned that not giving them what they want will result in armies of giants at our gates at a time when we are already busy with the dragon cult. If this were to be the case, then all the more reason to not give them such a weapon! The very idea that it is a possibility that they might attempt such an action would be a symptom of a greater problem that is inherent to their people, which is even more evidence that we should not give them a floating platform in which to drop boulders from!

In closing, we have already assimilated this land and are utilizing it already as a tool in which to strengthen the defense of our kingdom. We stand for the forces of good, the ideals of the fair and just, and we will be a compassionate neighbor to all kingdoms whether they associate with our values or not. The preclusion of the use of land is not a preclusion of resources, and while many great kingdoms may disagree over small matters from time to time, we aim to stand shoulder to shoulder (even shoulder to knee in some cases) alongside those who do not want evil outside forces such as the dragon cult to disrupt the delicate balance that it has taken generations to attain.

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Tessa's Personal Journal

Date: Skyreach Castle

I have traveled and fought for several 10 day with this group. It is comforting to have a mission with companions for a change. One wearies of having only her own thoughts for company after a time. Best yet, these are comrades I mostly trust.

LeShanna Nailo and I see the world from similar perspectives. She is also a member of The Order Of The Gauntlet but with more experience than I. Of course being an elf means she has lived two or more lifetimes to my one. I love hearing stories of her adventures, her father’s military conquests, and other elven tales of glory and valor. I hope she and I will become battle comrades, good friends, and have shared stories to tell…….

Sylina Earthwander is a halfling barbarian I travel with. She has a fire in her eyes and a fierceness in battle I have never seen before. Combat will change her eyes to those of the wild bear and she has a rage that is truly frightening. Barbarians must be formidable foes if they all fight as she does. You always knows where she stands on a issue. She has a frankness that is refreshing, if not always the wisest choice while sizing up the situation. I envy her closeness of family while growing up……..

Balefire the Wicked (aka Tim) is my third companion. His title should be changed to Balefire the Formerly Wicked since his encounter with orphaned human babies. I’m so inspired by his tale of seeing innocence in an infant and it’s power to unharden the wicked heart. His powers of sorcery greatly weaken the enemy so they fall beneath our blows with less effort……..

My last group member is Stump, a Half Orc fighter. He is incredibly strong and an asset on the battlefield. However, I’m not sure I entirely trust him. He says nothing of his background, his alliances, or motives. Perhaps the distrust stems from my time in captivity but it would be helpful to know why he is on this mission……….

I have grave misgivings about Hazirawn the Great-sword. I feared its power from the moment I claimed it from Rezmir’s dead claw. Any magic weapon created for an Orc King can bring only woe. It has a blood lust that doubles normal damage by creating rot and decay (game terms=necrotic). My first reaction was to put it aside for later destruction. The soul within the blade revels in bloodletting and will corrupt all who weld it. Kelemvor once again has other plans for my life. This weapon is to be a satin upon my soul until the cultists are vanquished or I fail this mission. I must spend more time in prayer to devise a plan that protects my companions should Hazirawn overpower my will. I shall follow my god’s directives or die trying.

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Between Adventures

Rather than posting a journal entry of the adventure, Andy has given me the thumbs up to post this cinematic discussion between Tim and Sharky that occurs between adventures. This sheds a bit of light onto some of their mid to long term goals.

**Balefire the Wicked returns to the floating castle after the hectic mission in which he almost pondered everything in existence for a moment and of course the subsequent spy vs. spy debriefing with the council. His purpose at the castle is to manage the projects with the kobold Sharky that keep operations running while Team Heroes are away on missions. Having completed most of the details and affairs of the castle’s maintenance, and also having completed the very public rounds of maintaining Sharky’s prestige by making appearances with him to secure his influence over fellow kobolds, Balefire and Sharky find a rare opportunity to share their philosophies from their unique perspectives on the Good vs Evil while sharing a cup of tea by the fireplace in one of the castle’s towers…

Sharky: So I can’t say that I actually ever signed on for this good-guy stuff, but I’m pretty sure that myself and all of the kobolds here are pretty much dead if we ever tried to blend back in with evil society after working for you all.

Balefire: You know, having had a fairly decent life and reputation now on both sides I can honestly say that the day to day isn’t that much different, it’s pretty much a difference of who you work for and why you are doing it. Of course there’s that whole “don’t kill, steal, blah blah blah,” but then again you get the benefit of knowing that everyone isn’t plotting against you to do those very same things.

Sharky: It’s odd that you would say that. Several weeks ago I would tell you that you were wrong, and such thinking makes you weak, but I’ve been witnessing firsthand several accounts where standing shoulder to shoulder and trusting another with your weak side allows these soft ones to develop far stronger than they would have if they had only themselves to rely upon. I suppose that is why their people are able to build great cities, and mine only builds when enslaved by others.

Balefire: Don’t be fooled, there are still snakes amongst them who would lie, steal, and betray only to gain even the slightest advantage for themselves, but it is true, for all of the annoyances that these creatures with their soft little hands possess, there is that undeniable quality that serves them, and most of them don’t even notice it. When they work for others and sacrifice of themselves, they grow stronger for it.

Sharky: Okay, so you know that some of my (insert slang word for kobolds) were tasked out to help a group of young humans with a construction project, under close watch of course, and they were convinced that they were wasting their time when they were told that these buildings were often used to care for elderly that for some strange reason weren’t put out of their misery, or for orphans that weren’t, well… put out of their misery, but even in such a short time how they are picking up on this very concept.

Balefire: What do you mean?

Sharky: For starters, my (same slang word) were awestruck at the sight of the physical strength that mere boys possessed, and they learned that it was from years of giving up their free time to lay stone foundations, shape wood, and carry heavy bags for old ladies. But it wasn’t just the novelty of “that’s a big specimen of human spearbait over there,” it was that in such a short time our workers learned more about building than any slavemaster had ever taught. These humans freely shared with them their knowledge of pretty much everything, with the only thought of repayment being that if these kobolds are on a job again they would really be able to help someone out.

Balefire: That is encouraging to hear, but is this really what they spend their time talking about now?

Sharky: No, of course not, it’s usually bragging, bullying, and business as usual when they get back to their old routines, but this introspective thing is new for them, and frankly… it’s new for me. The only difference I suppose is that I’m one of the few who has had some sort of formal education in the past, so I can read a book or two to sort it out. One of the nobles from the city is actually letting me borrow a copy of pages from a journal of some dark elf from ages past, it’s an interesting read.

Balefire: Sigh, well then I guess you and I are responsible for this pack of misfits and their newfound moral compass. Hey, remember those mandatory Tiamat rituals most of us had to do growing up? Maybe we should try and do one for the other guy. Even if we’re just going through the motions it might do some good for everyone if we decorated a small chapel or maybe a shrine. Let’s see if there’s a book for that or something, I could probably run the service.

Sharky: Yeah boss, just try not to make any of your usual jokes if it’s gonna be a religious thing.

Balefire: Oh that remind me… ‘ahem (clears throat):
Two gnolls are sitting in the woods eating lunch. One says “Man, I hate my wife”
…..and the other one says… “Then just eat the salad!”

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