Onward to Lopania!!!!

| Reader Note: This has been
| sent to Ondemeira the White.
| At the castle of King Guy the First
| in the city of Credia. This has also been
| sent to Zeelik Stonemace.
| At the caverns of the Serinan Tribe
| in the Baalgor Rocky Desert.

Good Scribe of Light
To my noble Brother,

   I miss my favorite Bard, Master Terramore Gleba, and I hope to see him at the ‘Games’ which are three weeks out as I write this sitting next to a resting Brother Indaris whom has forbidden me to smite, WITH HEAVENLY LIGHTNING Gggrrr, the building harboring the assailant. He wishes to learn more about our foe (some attractive yet deadly elf) at the apothecary shop: Heal for a Steal. Makes me think of a Cyclops Spider they way they hide themselves in plain sight among the rocks back home. This venomous vixen is no different.

   I digress when my friends hurt.

   Several times we mentioned bards and a show by CrIsis! I would chime in about Master Terramore and even one man hummed a song he heard him sing once about his first trip with CrIsis:

All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go, I’m standing here outside your door,
I hate to wake you up while I slip outside.
But the dawn is breaking, it’s early morn, Matilda’s waiting her horn is blowing.
Already I’m so excited I could die.
So kiss me and smile for me, tell me that you’ll wait for me, you’re holding me like you’ll never let me go.
‘Cause I’m leaving on a ship today, don’t know when I’ll be back again. Oh, lady, I hate to go.

There’s so many times I’ve let you down, so many times I’ve played around,
I tell you now they don’t mean a thing. I don’t even know their names…
Every place I go I’ll think of you, and you, and you.
Every song I sing I’ll sing for you, and you, and you.
When I come back, I’ll bring your weddin…. some… thing.
So kiss me and smile for me, tell me that you’ll wait for me, quit holding me like you’ll never let go.
‘Cause I’m leaving on a ship today, don’t know when I’ll be back again. Oh, lady, I have to go.

Now the time has come to leave you, one more time let me kiss you, and you, and you.
then close your eyes, and I’ll be on my way.
So kiss me and smile for me, tell me that you’ll wait for me, no really, I have to go.
I’m leaving on a ship today, don’t know when I’ll be back again. Oh, ladies, I please let go.

   It was a rather bawdy song for the good bard and clearly short folk (not all but a lot of them) seem to need to mate constantly in order to feel happy, awkward. This thought done, however, does lead me full circle back to our departure from Sekti-Abtu on RA the 1st. As we were loading up the wagon after the two and a half hourglasses of the consecration ceremony Master Overkill introduced the crew and temporary Captain en mass. He reported that the ship swayed gently in understanding, after the brilliant Master Azariel came up with a silent way for Rogtilda to do yes and no answers! We can’t fail with those two helping to lead us to victory over the dark forces arrayed against the Lord Lawgiver!

~ The 1st of Ra ~

   The good Brother and Sister Caminata had gotten the draft horses we had been using. Master Asher had been floating between the groups helping everyone, grand, grumpy Kobold. We had almost made it to the gates of the city when the Pontiff’s head of staff for his attendants came rushing out, hollering for us to stop.

    “CrIsis! Please wait!”
    “CrIsis! his holiness has need of his heroes!”

   Well so much for trying to sneak out quietly before the Festival of Ra got underway. We went with Pontiff’s head of staff to the Treasury where the Acamarch, Forenque Dngg, wished to discuss a grave matter with our group. The only other time I have heard of this man was in a Holy Missive to our good brother priest. He had apparently summoned quite a defense of the vaults gathering unto him mighty Champions including a ancient dragon we knew of. I knew I had to get a warded note from him so I started thinking of how to do that. In deference to the FORMIDABLE security of the Church of Light and Dark I will not recount what I saw defending the vaults, passphrases used to gain further entrance save I have seen my second Titan among them.

    I got the Acamarch’s attention during our conversation by referring to the elven treasurer as a dragon when he seated himself on a pile of gold to explain our “extra” mission to us. Things have become remarkably easier with the increased power of my metamorphosis amulet now it can last me just over 6 turns of the hourglass each time I invoke it, but still twice per day, just marvelous! It would seem one of the long standing champions of the Church, Dio Regellant, a Holy Crusader had become corrupted by the Dark. He was supposed to bring THE ‘Torch of Isis through the lands of Lopan to their capital of Lopania on the island’s northern coastline. He would normally take a long, circuitous route. All the way from Haven on the eastern seaboard of the Eastern Territories, across the Inland Sea to Lopan. Visiting many of the towns of the island nation along the way showing the power of the Lady of Light’s torch which would be used in the opening ceremonies to start the Lopanic Games! However, Crusader Dio Regellant, wanted to use the Torch of Isis to steal the Lung of the Lawgiver before the games opened!

    I couldn’t believe what I was hearing about the champion and the torch to be fouled for evil’s intent. The Acamarch went on to say they were aware of the deception of Crusader Dio Regellant’s faith and fealty. This is where CrIsis comes in and secretly carries the “true torch” onward to Lopania and present it to Empress Jesslyn herself. When the newest interloper of the dark arrived and was out of public view in the castle he would be arrested. I also imagined he will likely be killed for his transgressions in this time of ‘War twixt Light & Dark’ after the Agreement had been signed. Then we asked how we were supposed to smuggle a godly torch? The Acamarch went over to a plain torch nearby on a wall sconce and removed it muttering words we could not hear. When the last one left his lips the light was astoundingly bright as before us was the true torch!!! The Elven Treasurer of Light made it plainly clear only the Pontiff, himself and the Empress could say the phrase and unveil the torch for what it was.

    The rest of us felt warmth on our hands and noticed the ‘torch’ emblems on our rings glowing! If all of these adventures were not proof enough seeing the rings respond to the source of their creator’s power was a silent and reverent moment. Broken by Brother Indaris’ prayer in thanks for her Ladyship’s blessings:

Mighty, majestic, and radiant,
You shine brilliantly in the evening,
You brighten the day at dawn,
You stand in the heavens like the sun and the moon,
Your wonders are known both above and below,
To the greatness of the Holy Priestess of Heaven,
To you, Isis, I sing!

   To which I whispered in reply, as though my mother were near me again, “Amen – Ra.”

    Brother Indaris then pulls forth from his robe a silver sculpted torch and the Acamarch’s eye go wide in astonishment! Querying where he acquired such a ‘holy relic’ as a Guardian Torch. The good priest mentioned about it appeared in a dream when he received a Feather of Ma’at and both were there when he awoke. Next, the Acamarch mentioned the Obelisk of Osiris and how their used to be one of these torches for each piece of the Lawgiver! They were as powerful as any three of the current guardians of the pyramids themselves!!! One had been at the Obelisk and I blurted out that the Obelisk used to guard the “Skull” during the reign of King Narraphon the Second. My friends eyes turned to me with reproach but before any was forthcoming the Acamarch mentioned that he was happy someone had been studying pieces. Master Azariel mentioned we had hired additional scholars to help further what I had found. The Elven Treasurer went on to mention that a multitude of demons had died from the torch defending the Skull, but Hades had sent two multitudes. I added that the Western Empire had used something I found in the research called Demon Black Ships to besiege and the destroy the budding Timirian Navy. However, the entire invasion was a ruse the Hades Demons had used the Western Empire to facilitate and hide their true goal, stealing the skull.

    My companions seemed truly surprised as to the increased knowledge I had about one of the pieces but in reality the Acamarch had just filled in the blanks for questions I had in my research, before this quest is over we shall venture forth to Hades and confront demons on their home turf!!! As though to anoint the silver torch Brother Indaris extended his hand touching the torch to the flame issuing forth from ‘Torch of Isis when it burst into flame on it’s own and a column of fire shot up and away from it through the roof of the vault, every outer room/chamber into sunlight! Yet after inspection by both the Acamarch and Master Azariel none of the wards had been breached and were still active. Their was a mention we would all have died had that been the case. The Titan even checked on us and was content with the Acamarch’s words about being fine. I’m sure that will be the talk of the festival tonight had we stayed.

    Brother Indaris took his heavenly liege lady’s implement of light and its protective covering to be concealed from dark eyes. We began to bid our farewell’s once more and I knew it would be now or never. I leaned into the Acamarch and whispered “nice disguise” and he replied “you too” shoving Gromhuran’s note into my hand. I will look at it afterwards once we deliver the true torch to the Empress and I have the help of Master Azariel with the wards. Into my large satchel it went for now. I finally took my place at the driver’s seat of the wagon with Brother Indaris sitting next to me, both Sister Caminata and her constant, and ever-faithful friend, Nosse were both in wolf form next to Masters Overkill & Asher. Leaving the city late in afternoon the ‘Eye of Ra’ had begun to fall shut and only few turns of the hourglass would remain during the day. Master Asher had asked for two rubies at least 10 carats each in girth and I gave him the two I had that were 13 carats each. With them he had made stones that when held or worn in amulets would protect one against fire and even lessen the effects of magical fire! I mentioned to Master Overkill he could not turn down such a kingly gift given the number of times he had teased death with his appearance in the underworld. The other one was to be given to Brother Indaris.

    I have witnessed a thing I shall be happy to be rid of soon from cities around the whole of Palladium, ‘Traffic!’ Getting a mere mile, a single mile away from Sekti-Abtu with the throngs of attendees to the Festival of Ra was just over a turn of the hourglass and then some! Master Overkill was recognized on several occasions and shook hands, signed copies of the Books of CrIsis anywhere from volume 1 through volume 6, two copies of volume 7! I had forgotten we were told when it would be released and I think I am finally mentioned in the book. Once we were two to three miles outside the city Master Azariel, astride his warhorse, Lictalon. Bid us find safety off the road to camp for the night and after this day I was thankful to finally end the Amulet’s enchantment and get out of the robes and sandals I wear as a Hooman. Sister Caminata was more comfortable as in her wolf-form and Nosse seemed overjoyed to run with her again. Life is good right now.

~ The 2nd of Ra ~

    As we broke our night’s fast Master Azariel asked to discuss a matter of import he wished us to weigh in upon as a group and decide the course of action. He wanted to summon a Raksasha Demon and force them to make scrolls of magic for us that could aid the group and save our energy and finances. I stated my concern about being uneasy with this, however, I trusted Master Azariel to know what he was doing. Besides it is one thing to study about a topic from a book, but quite another to have a chance to witness an object of study up close especially if I was going to kill one later. The more I could learn of Hades and its inhabitants the better for our future trip there. Brother Indaris was against this and Sister Caminata (Druids can speak in animal forms, did not realize that), said she and Nosse would not be around in the presence of the Demon, both of them argued the notion of slavery and we should be above doing such to our enemies as Scions of Light. I agreed in principle but also following the orders of the group rules was part of that code of conduct. The majority sided with allowing Master Azariel to indenture the beast for the temporary duration and release it unharmed when done.

    I had a rather bright thought and asked Master Asher to cloak us all in a Circle of Concealment to prevent a passerby from seeing ‘CrIsis’ consorting with demons. Especially without having the benefit of understanding from the group discussion at the very least and being frightened to death at worst. Brother Indaris quipped that if something had to be hidden then how could it be right. The two wolves disappeared into the trees at the start of the ritual which involved sacrificing doves. Hmm, I was kinda hungry and while not a great way to cook them during the ritual after they were slain they were roasted by magic fire before the smell of sulfur filled the air. When it was successful a Brek-Shall (I’m unsure as to the spelling) Demon appeared which appeared to control fire the way Master Tyvernos controlled air. He seemed to remind me of front line dwarf troops in stories we read, not the smartest but tough and determined. Master Asher was readying and additional spell and had gotten very good at holding a spell on the final tip of casting waiting for the exact moment like a spell-archer of sorts aiming for the target. His techniques, though rough, bear serious further study. The Breksha was forcefully banished back to Hades and with three new doves he tried again.

    This second time and three bloody, partially cooked, doves later my knowledge of summoning circles and the Protection from Evil circle we were standing in just outside of the other sealed one our apprentice alchemist was in had increased dramatically. When it was done I was staring at a demonic minotaur with gigantic bat like wings! Was this what became of our evil brethren that had served the Old Ones? I was informed this was a Gallu Bull Demon. Once more it frustrated Master Azariel since we did not know the ‘True Name’ of any Raksasha demons among the host of Hades. When this one struggled to free himself Masters Asher & Azariel issued a banishment to differing effects. Master Asher’s knocked it hundreds of feet away and while we went to verify Master Azariel assured us he felt the thing flee to its fiery abode below.

    Upon our return the two wolves had come back to check on us and I called out, “HEY! Do you want dove?” To which both wolves, Master Asher tore into the bunch while I ripped off some of the over roasted nibbles. They should mix doves in trail mix that was quite tasty and went well with a couple carrots from the wagon where our food had been stored. Mmm, tasty carrot, tasty dove, life is good right now.

~ The 3rd & 4th of Ra ~

    Over the next two days in this rather lovely forest we met two bands of highway robbers and just felt pity knowing they would prey on weary travellers going to the games unless they had coin to go and be kings while they were there. We tossed bags of loose gold (one I saw had a Dragon Coin) over the side at one group. When we rode past the wolves ran back and scared their horses off to prevent them for following or harassing others for a time. The second group was spotted well in advance and we simply went around them while the wolves harassed them until we passed by. I think you would love the forest brother for trees are really magnificent to behold! We even came across five other acid lizards and Kupyr was given a chance to mate with the apparent three females present in the group.

~ The 5th of Ra ~

    The morning ride suggested we were a few miles away from the next city. When the most weird-looking and ugly horseotar with bird feathers for a tail jumped out from behind a tree and began preening in front of us! Sister Caminata and Brother Indaris explained this was an Adram as long as no one insulted it they were harmless. While still in my Hooman guise this day I mentioned they feathers were nice that it had. OH MY OSIRIS! When it spoke with melodic tone I wanted to wretch! I think poor Master Asher nearly did as he was bent over the side of the wagon heaving. It looks weird and ugly (yes it needed to be said twice), its voice is enough to make you loose your lunch. But oh wait it gets worse, the thing had two more friends hiding and they came out to “JOIN US” climbing into the wagon because we were nice to their companion. Oh if I was not sure before I am now as vommit hit me in the back as the Kobold wretched mightily! I think I saw a dove feather just shoot pass my head, yuck!!!!

    I want to write that we dealt with this assault to our eyes and senses in an adult manner and avoided violence and bloodshed however, that would be lying, kinda. I would say there were psychic powers used to toss one out of the wagon and I slipped my sandals and robe, leaping out of cart and canceling the magic making me my full 11 feet height and roared at them, trying to scare them away. Well the wounded one began running and while I was unsure of how much I scared the other two they ran after their companion not to return. Master Azariel and I chuckled over the fact becoming my true form actually stopped any further violence. HA! Several Cleanse spells later we were back on the way and never was I so happy to see a Hooman town!

    The city of Winter Frost was nestled in the pass between the two mountain ranges upon Lopan. Yet because the Lopanic Games the town was nearly empty! Mating rituals are really embarrassing to watch as the one of the city guard caught a glimpse of Sister Caminata in her Elf shape, skin, form, not sure what to call it for a druid priestess. Sir Quixis would have called the attempt valiant, however, futile. Her friend, Nosse, drove the point home with snarling and we introduced ourselves as CrIsis after Master Overkill was noticed by the same city guardsmen. Apparently, if we visit the Dragon’s Breath Range in Lopania he will be supervising the projectile weapons competition at the games. I never got his name and we rode on into the city. Once we had found lodgings I squealed with glee after noticing something I had Master Overkill confirm! This town was built upon and older Dwarven city beneath it!!!! It looks like a surface version of a peace time Etrinan Fortress!!!!!!! I begged Brother Indaris to come and sketch some of the town since it really was nearly deserted and I have included four sketches to you both. I am sorry they will not be the same but those darn magical pigeons cry if your cram to much for them to carry.

    Afterwards I helped load the wagon after we purchased 27 more doves (wait I see more demon study coming soon) and 600 pounds in vegetables to sell! With Master Azariel acting as a merchant lord our disguise to get into Lopania unnoticed was to be food merchants and mask Master Overkill’s appearance. Brother Indaris had blessed the food to keep it fresh for a week or more. While I would have loved to stay longer I reminded everyone I had about one and a half turns of an hourglass before the last use of today’s Hooman transformation magic would fade making for the fun short folk game of ‘Hunt the Minotaur’ starting soon after. We left town and I could tell we had about half and hourglass left, but blessed we were that no one was on the roads this late to note the Minotaur driving the wagon.

~ The 6th & 7th of Ra ~

    True to form, there was the breaking of the night’s fast in our forest camp, and back to our tried and true routine of summoning the dark forces to get our scroll maker. On Master Azariel’s first try he was successful and brought forth the Raksasha. It was a group effort helping him find the precise wording to set the demonic alchemist to task. To look more the part he had taken the form of a dwarf noble citing the scroll creation would take three days till the 8th of Ra on the morning. Master Azariel had him create a Scroll of Resurrection to start with and a plethora of other magics that his ilk would have known.

    I spent most of my time studying the interaction between them and how he would speak in the demon tongue of his dark race to perform his magics. I won’t try to recount those words here for my blood chills even when I think them. Oathbringer was nearly all Brother Indaris could handle, crying out for the demon’s blood seemingly non-stop! The only respite the good priest had was training with Master Overkill and myself in the sword. While I have been practicing with Uraeus’ Fang every night after most had gone to sleep this was the first time with others and Master Overkill and Brother Indaris were so stunned when I beat them back and down on EVERY match! As stubborn as Dwarves are even Master Overkill stopped to find out what had happened to me and my new-found skill. I told him about the spell I had learned called the ‘Trade of Thoth’ and what it had done with my two skills. When they found out the results were permanent Master Overkill wanted to have a turn at it. I smiled and warned him I was still adjusting because I have knowledge of learning techniques I know are being adjusted into familiar memories and re-writing them. I can only assume this is how it makes the information permanent but it had been an awkward transition indeed.

~ The 8th of Ra ~

    True to form, there was the breaking of the night’s fast in our forest camp, and Master Azariel was able to get two last amulets good for ‘Protection from Evil’ from the demon before he banished it back to Hades and if left our world. The Holy Lightbringer Mace whined at her owner about not slaying it and Master Azariel apologized that it had taken this long to accomplish his goal for our group. Before taking Hooman form again I told him, “You never gave up, so this was a success not a failure. You only fail when you stop trying.” I think I actually got a smile out of him. About two or three (it is hard to tell sometimes) hourglass turns before highsun we came out of the forest to the bustling sounds of COMMERCE!!!!!

    Lopania had been besieged by tents and semi-permanent buildings with attached tents everywhere like a sea spreading out as far as the eye could see! Realizing that new arrivals showed up about 4 times an hourglass turn space close by to something useful was going up quick! We grabbed a spot along the main road leading to the permanent city and coliseums of Lopania. I asked Master Azariel if this was like Caer Itom from our discussion of the Western Empire. He did a thorough visual survey and said the coliseums in the center could rival Care Itom, however, the rest of it would be a backwater, shanty, hovel, village not worth most people’s time. I don’t think I have anything to add to that assessment.

    Now we are finally coming back to the beginning of this missive. Every short race I could think of was here and I had my Hooman disguise about me. I saw a group of High Elves from the Old Kingdom city-state of Sulestan they looked like the pictures of the Elven High-Lords of the ancient age before their fall from grace! Their clothing, armor, and just the way they moved had an ethereal quality about them as though I might wake up from a dream! The Elves of Phi seemed upset to be off of their isle and disgusted with everything beneath their nose. Snooty is a word more than one Hooman used to describe them passing by. I think one of them spotted me staring to long, made a face and turned to go another way upset my eyes had seen his form.

    Master Asher had begun selling our vegetables disguise through magic as another Dwarf until Master Overkill wanted to find the Karowyn’s Merchant House to check on our book sales. Master Asher went with him to get red stones for more fire warding amulets for everyone else. Brother Indaris visited with our neighbors, the first was an ogre ran tattoo shop called Burg’s Tattoo. I am betting you can guess the owner’s name? Haha! The second is the vile soon to be destroyed apothecary shop: Heal for a Steal. Turns out they curse you when you shop there so you can come back to get more healing. Pathetic, and the attractive yet deadly Elven proprietor will rue the day she hurt my friend.

    There has been rumors that the Wolfen and I may not be allowed to participate in the games, or maybe just the Minotaur of Gold Coast Trading Company. As I am listening to the rumors flying around I feel the weight change in my backpack. T’would appear I have been granted the 7th Book of CrIsis written by Lady Torchwood. Good Scribe of Light that is a spectacular pseudonym from which to write under. I shall ask Master Azariel and Terramore to create a buzz to find out who the new Scribe of the Gods is. Should help book sales if nothing else. I see it details the Agent, Azariel, myself, Bungo. Gavin has become King, and left. Tyvernos leaves to escort Morgan & Oric to Gavin. Looks like it was published on the first of this month, well done indeed good Scribe of Light.

Be well to you both,

Xerx’ses … Name in progress… ,
War Wizard of CrIsis

P.S. Although I am no priest may the Lawgiver’s judgement keep you both safe.

>>> Written by Xerx’ses Goldenflail,
later upon the evening of the 8th of Ra, 70th Year of the Wolfen Empire, 2nd year of King Guy the First of the Timiro Kingdom, and 343 year of the Dominion of Man. <<<

Lady in yellow dress, picture by Nomuh.
Picture of Minotaur from DeconZR.
Song lyrics from John Denver.
Elf Bard Picture from Iron Realms.
Picture of Torch from Palladium Books.
Picture of Silver Torch from Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom.
Picture of Gallu Demon Bull from TwoDD.
Picture of Raksasha Demon from Klork.
Picture of Adram from Palladium Books.
Lopania tent city picture from Harry Potter Wikia.
High Elf Picture from Guardians of Middle-Earth.


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