Exodus

Hymn of the Altan Ordu
As composed by Ado

When the white flame in us is gone,
And we that lost the world’s delight
Stiffen in darkness, left alone
To crumble in our separate night;

When your swift hair is quiet in death,
And through the lips corruption thrust
Has stilled the labour of my breath -
When we are Dust, when we are Dust! -

Not dead, not undesirous yet,
Still sentient, still unsatisfied,
We’ll ride the air, and shine, and flit,
Around the places where we died,

And dance as Dust before the sun,
And light of foot, and unconfined,
Hurry from road to road, and run
About the errands of the wind.

And every mote, on earth or air,
Will speed and gleam, down later days,
And like a secret pilgrim fare
By eager and invisible ways,

Nor ever rest, nor ever lie,
Till, beyond thinking, out of view,
One mote of all the Dust that’s I
Shall meet one atom that was you.

Then in some garden hushed from wind,
Warm in a sunset’s afterglow,
The lovers in the flowers will find
A sweet and strange unquiet grow

Upon the peace; and, past desiring,
So high a beauty in the air,
And such a light, and such a quiring,
And such a radiant ecstasy there,

They’ll know not if it’s fire, or dew,
Or out of earth, or in the height,
Singing, or flame, or scent, or hue,
Or two that pass, in light, to light,

Out of the garden, higher, higher. . . .
But in that instant they shall learn
The shattering ecstasy of our fire,
And the weak passionless hearts will burn

And faint in that amazing glow,
Until the darkness close above;
And they will know - poor fools, they’ll know! -
One moment, what it is to love.

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Mother

My mother takes her place
beneath the branches of the tree of life.
She is sheltered there from sun and rain.
She nurtured me from the roots
she fed me from abundant fruits
she showed me the beauty in the blossom
she guided me to trace the bark with my fingers.
She taught me to stand with my back against this tree.
That I may be supported in the days of prophecy.
I am a grown woman now
who has taken my own place here
sheltered by the branches of the tree.
The prettiest one, my mother gave to me, apple.
I stand here beside my mother, see I am near.
Green gold light patterning on our faces, dappled.
We look back through the garden gate wistfully
wondering when we will be allowed to return
to our rightful places.

My mother, she told me something the other day.
She said when she lays down to sleep
she lies perfectly straight to align her spine
to the tree of life.
She is a body prayer, breathing the names of Spirits.
Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Life’s true name is spoken
as my mother aligns her spine to complete the day.

Now I too align myself with that great wisdom tree.
The one promised to me. The one connected
to the very truth root that sets us free.
I don’t know the name of Souls my mother knows.
I just imagine her, breathing it for me. Inhale. Exhale.
Mothers do that you know, moderating our life flow.
Breathe for their babies in their red womb home.
The Queen did it for her itty bitty baby tree.
Born to help the blind to see. But do we?

They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Oh! How I wish that was more true for me,
because my mother is the wisest woman on earth.
According to me.
She is dynamic combination of delight and severity
teaching me the view from the fence, or the tree.
With her camel bags packed with an ancient remedy
and the memories of our mothers
she leads our flock to safety.

I thank you my Good Mother,
She heeds the call, in naming me
for what she hoped I would become.
I pray for her sake alone, that I be a good apple!
I shall do my best to serve you
as my mother taught me, I’ll try.

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Storytime with Elondyr
When memories come out of the corners of your mind
The sun was bright, almost as if enhanced by the very forest before them. The Forest of Mirrors, wait, how do I know that? Images come flashing behind the solid white eyes, thoughts and knowledge lost, but now flooding back in too fast. Pain floods in as each new image flashes by, almost as if cutting his very mind. A scream comes from nearby in the camp, Arandyr must be seeing as well. “Elondyr, it hurts, make it stop, El, make it stop.” Tears stream down her face as Elondyr’s heart breaks yet again for his sister. “Gather our friends Aran. I will help you with a story, just like when you couldn’t sleep when we were little.” I remember when we were little…. Aran darts off and soon the friends we have held onto so dearly gather. Each confused as to why Aran is sobbing. All look at Elondyr, with a strained look, obviously feeling the same pain as his sister. He begins to speak.

“Once upon a time, a brother and a sister of noble Arveni birth, were brought before the Empress. The father, proud and dignified, hid the sorrow of the loss of his wife with the birth of his twin babies.”

Squee, “Oh, that’s so sad. Aran, did you know them?” Aran shakes her head, reeling and dizzy from images brought to mind by El’s words.

“Marked were the children, for twins are unheard of in the Arveni. One child held the soul the other held the mind. Heart and mind separated, yet still inseparable. They grew in height and grew in status among the Arveni. One, the boy, mastered all sorts of magic and logic, eventually seeing into the future farther than even the haruspex of the Empress. This awarded him great prestige and incited great jealousy. The girl twin made all sorts of friends and companions, unfortunately they were all imaginary. She learned to be one of the greatest of scouts, with the cunning of an animal. When she wished to be seen, no one could ignore her, but if she did not wish to be seen, no one would ever know she was there, save her brother. Somehow he always knew where she was and what she was doing. This aggravated her to no end.”

Vadim elbows Aran, “Almost sounds like you, Aran. This is a good story.” Aran nods, while her sobbing subsides to a small whimper. Tear-filled eyes look up to El, waiting for his next words.

“One day, the twins were called to the throne room of the Empress. She watched as they approached, eyes shifting from one twin to the other. Speaking in a godlike knowing voice she stated, ‘The twins have arrived. Welcome, I am glad to see you here, for I have not seen you anywhere else. You have the sight, so tell me what you see of you and me. My sight cannot seem to peer into your future.’ The boy with gave a knowing look, and the girl flashed irritation on her face. He always had that look, grrrr. The boy stepped forward, bowing deeply and saying, "My Empress, allow me these few words now, and many will follow. I shall tell you of many things to come and of many things hidden from your view. The Empress then questioned, ‘What would you tell the all knowing that they do not know?’ The boy, moving forward explains, “It is not for all ears to hear.” He bends over and whispers in her ear, as her eyes go wide. The Empress surprised by his words, ‘You would admit such a thing? On the chance that, what, I might spare you?’ The boy says, “Spend the rest of your day with my sister before you make your decision. After, I will accept anything you say.”

“El, what did he whisper? Why was she surprised? You’re leaving out parts of the story.” Aran quite aggravated has stopped crying altogether.

“This is what he said,‘One day my Empress, you will banish me.’”Shocked looks came all around the campfire.
“Oh, he’s screwed.”
“Looks like a good day to say goodbye.”
“Pfft Idiot”
"The Empress agreed, and for a few hours, the girl and the Empress sat in silence. One watching the other who was lost in thought. The other watching just as intently while discussing her situation with one of her ‘friends’. Finally getting bored and annoyed at being watched, the girl looked up at the Empress asking, “Want to play?” The Empress, a bit shocked at the thought, much less the suggestion, looked quizzically down at the small girl Arveni. With a shrug of a fate she could not see nor understand, she agreed. ‘Let us see where this leads us.’ “Oh, you want to play follow the leader? Ok, I’ll go first….” The girl darted out of the great hall, the Empress surprisingly not far behind. The day wore on and by the end, the two had become of all things impossible, friends."

" Oh Oh OH, Aran, Aran, we play that don’t we?" as an excited Squee shakes Aran vigorously. “Follow the leader… yes, yes, we play that, but you cheat when you misty step, not fair I say, not fair.”

“Years went by, and the twins served the Empress with both all their hearts and minds. One calling focus and direction when needed; the other distraction and tenderness when needed. Until one day a darkness unlike any other came to the Arveni. Not a lack of light, only a lack of sight. None could see what was to come, except the boy who had already seen. The Haruspex deceived the Empress with their lack of sight and did as they saw fit, leading the Empress blindly. The boy seemingly lost his mind, seeing only one truth, that of the destruction of the Empire…Raving madly in the courts of the End of all things. The Haruspex declared the boy a traitor to the Empire and called for him to be slain. The Empress, with thoughts of his sister in mind, did not want to kill the boy, only perhaps banishment would be enough for….banishment? As she thought, her mind reeled back over the many years of the twin’s service to her, to that fateful first day and the whisper she had heard so clearly.

The Empress in a loud and commanding voice calls out over the Haruspex’s allegations “I hereby banish this boy from the Empire, all memory, knowledge of his past shall be wiped away.” As she spoke, the boy kept a crooked smile on his face and a knowing look in his eye. From the side of the throne his sister screamed ‘Noooooo, you can’t send him away. I won’t let you!’ With a flash of steel, a small streak of red ran down the Empress’s cheek. The girl had gone too far; she was tackled to the ground and held before the Empress. She looked up at her brother, that damned look was still on his face… ‘Aaarrrrgggggg dammit, he knew I would…’ After that the Empress simply said, ‘Send them both far away, never to return.’ Tears mixed with the blood on her cheek and it seemed to sting much more than she thought it would. But soon the twins would be forgotten."

“This is the end of that story.”

Squee spoke first, “But what happened to the twins? Where did they go? What did they do next?”

Aran, “Yes, Brother, you spoke as if you knew them. Who were they?” Tears filled her eyes as she spoke, as though she knew what he would answer.

“Dear Aran, we both knew them. Now you remember.” With a hug and tears, the pain of the images faded, only to be replaced by the pain of the loss they had endured. However, Elondyr did not frown at this. No, on his face was ‘that look.’ He knew something yet again.
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Confession
Overheard in the High Temple of Arivan

“… afraid of the dark? Child, there is nothing to fear in the absence of bitter light. If anything, darkness is freeing. In the shadows, you can be anything you want be, do anything you want to do, and go where you will – all without fear of judgement or persecution. Light takes that away from you. Light pins you down and says ‘This is what you are, and nothing more.’ In the beginning was darkness and from it everything that is came forth.”
“But … bad things happen at night – thieves, murderers. Not to mention the scary things that creep about beyond the walls.”
“The cowardly and weak-willed may abuse the privileges granted by Mother Night. What of crimes committed shamelessly under the baleful gaze of the sun? Is the day any better or worse for them?”
“I – I don’t know. I just know that decent folk should be sleepin’. Safe, away from the monsters.”
“… sleep. I … used to sleep.”
“… say what now?”
“There is one who sleeps … very far away, in the cold of night.”
“uh …”
“But I am calling out to it. I will wake it, I will summon it, and it shall come.”
“H-how are you gonna do that?”
“Louder. I must call louder, or it will not hear. Rend the heavens, if I must, crack the earth. The sleeper will wake and come forth.”
“I-is that safe?”
“Does the salmon swimming upstream ask if the journey is safe? Or the goose migrating south for the winter? They do not question what is written in their very being, they simply act. To do anything else would be to live in conflict with oneself – to live a lie.”
“Livin’ a lie?”
“What? Sorry, I lost myself there – Where were we? Ah yes, the dark. Would you like to discuss that further?”
“Ah, uh, no. That’s okay. I … don’t think I’m afraid of the dark anymore.”
“Excellent. Go in peace – and remember: confession is confidential.”

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loot

800 Copper
6,000 Silver
2,300 Gold
70 Platinum
2 vial(s) of holy water (100 gp)
6 bottle(s) of common wine (1.2 gp)
4 bolt(s) of fine silk (400 gp)
2 flask(s) of alchemists’ fire (100 gp)
1 lute (35 gp)
5 lbs. of copper trade bars (2.5 gp)
7 green tourmaline worth 100 gp each
Potion of Healing

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And a Merry Winter's Wrath to you
The carving of the White Dragon

Sven the Cook greets all his “friends” to the feast of Winter’s Wrath…" a time when we grow our roots deep and our souls as well. A time of enduring and soul searching as Winter’s chill touches our very soul and we search out the fortitude and strength of will to continue on until the day of New Birth. We are especially blest this year as we have slain one of Winter’s allies this year, the white dragon. And to commemorate this event i have had my fellow guild craftsmen craft for each of you a special gift.
For you dear Physle, tho you look at me with disgust at times, truly my heart aches as i see you practice and study your magic, often times a victim of your own fire. I offer you this, The Staff of the Tongue of the White Dragon, yes a bit wordy but i thought you would appreciate the accuracy of the name, This staff has great ability to sooth the burns you so often receive and perhaps even more magic lingers within from the words the great dragon spoke.
Silence, tho i have known you the least amount of time, i feel i understand some of what motivates you, my condolences to you for the loss of your North ally, may you remember him as you hear the Chimes of Dragon Bone, created to send forth eerie sounds that call forth fey friend and foe alike, may it draw forth allies to you as well as curious enemies for you to take their souls.
To Peyotor, The horns you were born with do not match the strength of soul you possess, may these Horns of the White Dragon help bring you the desires of your soul and the show the strength of courage you truly have. They are laced in silver runes, tips capped in gold.
General Maximus, a general should always be seen as a figure of great renown in thought as well as physical presence. Therefore i offer you this, White Dragon Scale Mail, May you be seen as the great general you are as well as the figure of awe and authority you possess.
And for the shadow of our group, a fine leather choker, emblazened with silver runes, a gift that not only exemplifies what the party would like to do to you, but also created of a body part that we all think you are. I think i need not say more.
Dearest Val or whomever you may be at this time, a special gift for you from the brewers guild, 3 bottles of White Dragon’s Blood Wine, drink it in good health or bad, may it chill your voracious appetite.
I see our little princess can stand it no longer, Dear little Athens, a Double Amulet Neclass of clearest sapphire blue, it drapes over your shoulders, on amulet eye in front and one amulet eye in back. May it guard you from ever being betrayed and stabbed in the back, I think i could not bear it if you were done such a wrong.
And for you, oh great latreenist. A new shovel for you, fitting your skill and prestige, The Dragons Claw, fingers pointed straight and together, slightly cupped for scooping, razor sharp for piercing the foulest of mucks. Shovel to your hearts content dear friend.
Oh and Zotoh, don’t think I’ve forgotten you. I present to you this Frozen White Dragons Heart, sealed shut by cold of the dragons blood, i tried for days to thaw it and retrieve the treasure within, but to no avail. It seems it is locked up tight and perhaps the coldest heart i have ever known save perhaps your own. May you take your heart and warm it one day and find the treasure within, assuredly something of love and desire lyes within if only you can discover how to open it.
Whats that Physle? For myself? What did i have crafted for myself? Tis but an honor i have crafted for myself. This meal is from the very meat of the Dragon. I cooked it especially for you all, for i do so love the joy on the faces of those i serve, and it is my honor to be the only Glaistig in the kingdom and beyond to have gotten a piece of Dragon’s Tail." And various objects and insults commence to being thrown at Sven even for all his thoughtfulness, his own thoughts betray him yet again.

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Diary of a Square Jawed Legionaire: Day 5

Dear Diary,

Today someone went and started driving the undead souls from the corpses of the Iron Legionaries. It turns out that inventing new crimes for the killing of things that are already dead is difficult. Also, witches it turns out, live in houses with sideways doors. Why can’t anything ever make sense?

Today I fought an inflated shed skin without an owner. It was gross. It had a friend, a suit of armor full of snakes. Why does it always have to be snakes? At least it skewered nicely.

Today I ran out of a dissolving witch’s hovel into a nest of humanoid snakes, and boy did they stink. Why does it always have to be snakes? They were easily skewered also.

Today, everyone else went bat fucking shit crazy as hell…

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treasure 11/13

400 cp, 10000 sp, 1500 gp, 110 pp, Small Bag of Incense (25 gp), Small Vial of Perfume (25 gp), Rabbit Fur Belt (25 gp), Rabbit Fur Hunter’s Cap (25 gp), Iron Decanter (25 gp)

7 bp- fey

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Diary of a Square Jawed Legionaire: Day 3

Dear Diary,

Today I watched my companions all dive off a cliff, attempting to hit the ground, and miss. I also saw the king out headbutt a goat man. Then we went into a drainage tunnel, steep, wet, and smelly, down to sump at the bottom of the quarry.

Except, of course, it was all slimy organic ichor, that fluoresced…and erupted with massive bloated versions of the goat-men. The king smashed one, which exploded, blowing up two more. It hurt. Goat entrails stink.

I woke up in the arms of the king. Wait, that doesn’t sound right. He fireman carried me out of the fight.

Today, I ran into a giant horny beast and thrust deep. Wait, that didn’t sound right either. I stabbed the big bad evil thing with my spear and killed it in one blow.


Dear Diary,

Today we emptied the treasury to repair the walls and I got a sudden promotion to General of the City of Ariven. This cannot bode well.

We returned to the city to learn of a killing spree against the minority gnome population, apparently perpetrated by our new Treasurer. After the faceless lady calmed them down, we learned that the local house spirits were dying. Apparently not the Treasurer. I hate investigations.

Today I learned that illusion magic is like a blanket, but not a very comfortable one. Grim described it as thick, knotty, and lumpy, like an old duvet.

Today I learned that it is a bad idea to talk about dead house spirits in a barn. The worms will come for you. And the rats. And the sheep. And they’ll laugh. And its creepy. And you’ll have to set the barn on fire.

Being a General sucks.

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Diary of a Square Jawed Legionaire: Day 2

Dear Diary,

Today I had dinner with some dead things. The idiots and I sunk a lot of resources into repairing the walls and re-arming the scouts, then headed out to source some lumber to stand up some palisades and burn for heating.

Today, I got jumped by a swarm of bugs, and another swarm of bugs, and another, and another. Oh, and a giant bug-monster with two stingers. I almost died, again, and again. But I got better.

Today, the valkyrie sprouted another personality and we found some cast-off booze, finery, and crates of spices leftover from the party. We also found a decent place for the lumber camp, relatively close to the barrows, which might make a nice bivouc for the darakhul.

Nashar is a pretty awesome guy.


Dear Diary,

Today, the iron legion of the ghouls sang happily as they marched out of town to take over their “old barracks”. The scouts brought back the rotted corpse of glaistig — except it wasn’t a glaistig and it wasn’t rotten. It was literally MADE out of rot, but at least it had horns.

Today we sent Lucius Antoninus out to take the people’s silver to silverize the scout’s weapons, while we sank our silver coin back into the citizens.

Today we headed out to the quarry, and, thanks to a spyglass we saw a bunch of the cancer-goats. Today I stepped on a branch and blew the element of surprise. Two went flying into the quarry to end up as grease spots on the stone. And the King and his howitzer went careening in a cart after them.

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